Although the United States is only a couple of years away from celebrating a century of women’s suffrage in this country (in the state of New York the centennial has already taken place), we still have a long way to go to consider our country free of sex and gender bias. We see evidence of such discrimination throughout the culture — in households, in politics, in borrowing power, and in education.

While we have definitely made great strides in areas such as reproductive rights for women and awareness of the reality of transgender issues, we are now living in a dangerous political climate of backlash in which there are many who seek to take away women’s rights and tamp down the burgeoning acceptance of gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person feels miscategorized by the gender of birth. There are males who feel definitely female; females who feel instinctively actually male, and some people who feel their gender identity cannot be explained by either term.

Sex and Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

At Tand & Associates we work on both sides of the aisle to combat sex and gender orientation discrimination, assisting employees who suffer the indignity and injustice of such discrimination and helping employers to establish regulations to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Wage Inequality

One place in which sex and gender discrimination is quite evident, both statistically and personally, is in the workplace. If you experience sex or gender discrimination at your workplace, you should immediately complain to your supervisor or Human Resources Department. If the situation is not remedied quickly, you should contact Tand & Associates. Our skilled attorneys know exactly how to handle such cases and will get you your deserved raise or promotion and compensation for the way you have been mistreated. In many cases, we are able to negotiate a just settlement without taking your employer to court, but, if a trial becomes necessary, we are a team of highly capable litigators who will fight vigorously for your rights.

There are mountains of evidence of sex and gender discrimination in the workplace attesting to the fact that women have been earning less money than men for precisely the same jobs. Fortunately, the gap is beginning to close, particularly among millennials. This appears to be due to the fact that more young women than men are not only attending college, but obtaining graduate degrees. Some researchers believe that the wage-gender gap may close during the next decade, but others are more skeptical. In the meantime, here are a few facts about the present wage-gender gap.
  1. Women earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts performing the same job.
  2. 57 percent of men, but only 42 percent of women, earn $50,000 or more annually.
  3. Women have more debt than men and are less likely to be homeowners.
  4. For every dollar earned by a man, a woman working equally hard earns 76 cents.
  5. Women under the age of 35 earn 90 percent of what men are paid, but earnings for women over the age of 35 drops to 74 percent of their male colleagues
  6. Transgender women earn less after they have transitioned
  7. Four times as many transgender individuals live below the poverty line than other genders

It should be noted that women of color earn even less than their white counterparts.

Wage Levels Are Not the Only Form of Discrimination

In addition to working for lower wages, women and/or transgender individuals often suffer other forms of discrimination at the workplace, including:

  • Being asked inappropriate questions during their hiring interview (such as whether you are single, have children, plan to become pregnant in the near future, or plan on having surgery)
  • ot receiving promotions, bonuses, or raises that other employees routinely receive
  • Not receiving training that would enable them to climb the corporate ladder
  • Being asked to perform tasks beyond their job description, such as tidying up the office, making coffee, buying office groceries, or purchasing gifts on behalf of their boss.
  • Not being accommodated when they are pregnant or nursing, as required by law
  • Being asked to wear clothing that is more gender-specific to work

Sex or Gender Harassment on the Job

As news headlines make abundantly clear, both women and men, as well as transgender individuals, all too frequently suffer humiliating and sometimes frightening, harassment in the workplace. Harassment may consist of lewd or suggestive comments that may be made directly to you or simply made in your hearing. Name-calling, disturbing graffiti, offensive posters or cartoons, unwanted touching — all of these are forms of harassment and should not be tolerated. Any person, of any gender or gender identity, can be guilty of harassing you — your supervisor, a co-worker, even a client or a customer.

Propositions phrased as tit-for-tat arrangements that either promise promotions or raises in exchange for sexual favors or threaten demotions or discipline for refusing to comply, are criminal offenses. Sex or gender harassment, however, does not have to be related to being propositioned. Derogatory comments or written words about any gender may be considered harassment, especially if they occur repeatedly.
While harassment of women is so common that we hear almost daily reports of it the news, harassment of transgender people is at least as bad. The National Center for Transgender Equality found in its own research survey that more than one-in-four transgender people have lost their jobs as a result of discrimination. Not surprisingly, the rate was even higher in transgender people of color. Even worse, 97 percent of transgender individuals reveal that they have been mistreated at work in one way or another. Offenses against them include not allowing them to interact with clients or customers, being denied access to an appropriate bathroom and having benefits, bonuses, or promotions deliberately withheld.

President Trump’s would-be ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a blatant form of job discrimination, has recently been blocked by a U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C. from going into effect for the foreseeable future.

Laws to Protect Women and Transgender Individuals

As mentioned, there has been progress made in the arena of sex and gender discrimination, especially in terms of legislation to protect victims. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of the same year were tremendous advancements designed to protect all of us from gender-based mistreatment, whether through segregation, avoidance, painful taunting, or verbal, psychological, or physical attacks. While these federal laws apply only to businesses with 15 or more employees, New York State offers the same protections to businesses with only four or more employees The Equal Pay Act of 1963 established that men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment are entitled to be protected from gender-based wage and benefit discrimination.

As we all know, changes in basic understanding tend to come slowly. In keeping with that, the U.S. Congress has been procrastinating in providing direct protection of people with gender identity issues. Nonetheless, in recent years a number of court decisions have reflected more enlightened views by applying federal laws against discrimination based on “sex” to discrimination based on gender identity.

Laws to Prevent and Punish Discrimination Based on Pregnancy, Childbirth, Adoption

For a long time, women who became pregnant simply lost their jobs. Thankfully, legal protections are now available for pregnant and nursing mothers and for fathers of newly born or newly adopted babies or children. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is a United States federal statute that amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

A federal law passed in 2010, known as “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” ensures that employers provide both break time and a clean, private place for nursing mothers to pump breast milk and refrigerate it during the work day. These two laws help to ensure that women who become pregnant are not discriminated against in the workplace and that they have a job to come back to once they have bonded with the new family member. Family leave is now also required for both parents throughout the country and, since 2016, New York has the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy. Remember, though, that just because we have strong laws against discrimination doesn’t mean that you won’t experience it.

Legal Protection Varies Throughout the Country

Many states have passed laws banning discrimination against transgender individuals. Although New York is not on this list, the governor of New York, like the governors of several other states, has issued an executive order banning such transgender discrimination here, so, if you live and/ or work in New York, the law has your back.

Of course, as we all know, legistation does not always function as it is supposed. Partly because bullies flaunt certain laws and partly because victims don’t always stand up for their rights. There are many reasons it can be difficult to complain about mistreatment on the job — such as that you are navigating a strained economy in which jobs are at a premium. that you are going through too many other stressors in your life, or that you have been threatened with retaliation (which is also illegal) — such reasons are precisely why it is invaluable to have a strong employment attorney at your side.

Our capable attorneys not only know the ins and outs of pertinent laws, but have been through such cases many times before and will not be cowed by threats and intimidations. Tand & Associates will protect you from undeserved attacks and preserve your dignity while fighting hard to win you the compensation you deserve.

On the other hand, if you are a modern, well-intentioned employer, Tand & Associates will work with you to prevent sex and gender orientation discrimination in your company. We are well-prepared to assist you in establishing appropriate policies to protect yourself and your employees from harassment as well as from unfounded allegation.