Issues concerning sex discrimination are still rampant in the modern workplace, despite the many federal and state laws in place prohibiting sex discrimination. While federal laws regarding sex discrimination offer poor protections for women and sexual minorities, California laws offer better protections and recognize gender expression and gender identity. If you are being unfairly discriminated against at work because of your sex, our experienced sex discrimination lawyers in the Bay Area can help. In the meantime, here’s a quick primer on sex discrimination laws all employees should know about.
In general, sex discrimination laws prohibit discrimination against applicants or employees for employment due to their sex. Sex discrimination broadly refers to discriminatory practices on the basis of gender identity, pregnancy, sex stereotyping, transgender status, and childbirth. For example, treating unwed women unfavorably, but not unwed men, who become parents is unlawful. Likewise, imposing differences in workplace terms, such as retirement age or retirement privileges and conditions, among others, based on the employee’s sex, or limiting job duties or classifications, are unlawful sex discrimination practices.
Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based on traditional sex stereotypes, like how females and males are expected to act, speak, and look, etc. Broadly speaking, employers cannot treat employees adversely when an employee chooses not to conform to heteronormative gender expectations and stereotypes. For instance, employers cannot subject women to some type of penalty due to her clothing choices at work, including whether she wears makeup or jewelry.
Similarly, harassing a man due to his perceived femininity is unlawful. The same applies to harassing women due to their perceived masculinity. Basically, treating employees negatively because of their perceived or actual gender identity, including their transgender status, is sex-based stereotyping discrimination.
Employers are required to treat these individuals equally for all purposes related to employment:
Health conditions linked to childbirth and/or pregnancy can include lactation, issues directly linked to pregnancy, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, and back pain, complications that require bed rest, and other effects of childbirth. Employers are likewise required under the law to provide pregnant employees health insurance coverage that should cover childbirth, pregnancy, or related conditions up to the extent that the health insurance coverage covers medical costs and care for other health conditions.
Fathers, like mothers, are entitled to take paternity leaves on the same conditions available to mothers. This helps foster an environment where men and women can both provide family care rather than just women. Employers should likewise provide medical leaves for childbirth, pregnancy, or associated health conditions on the same conditions that medical leaves are allowed for health conditions that come with similar consequences on the ability of an employee to work.
Employers have long been required to assess their compensation systems in order to determine whether employees within the same category are paid differently according to their race, national origin, or sex. But there are also prohibitions against particular sex-based pay discrimination practices. For instance, employers are not allowed to deny women equal opportunities to seek overtime and/or regular work hours. They are also prohibited from denying or granting apprenticeships, training, or other job opportunities and perks based on sex.
According to state and federal rules regarding discrimination, employers can’t deny transgender individuals access to facilities, such as restrooms, assigned for use by the gender they identify with. In addition, employers can’t treat applicants or employees adversely if they are receiving, have received, or would receive medical services related to transitioning. These prohibitions against sex discrimination also apply to employees and applicants who identify as neither female nor male.
Regardless of your biological or chosen sex or gender identity, if an employer discriminates against you because of your sex, your legal rights are being violated. When this happens, speak to one of our experienced Bay Area sex discrimination lawyers to figure out your next steps. Reach out to us here at Minnis & Smallets by connecting with us by telephone or contacting us online.