How do I know if I have a claim?
If you are treated unequally at work when compared to a similarly situated man, or you are experiencing sexual harassment, you may have a claim. Two types of discrimination are prohibited by Title VII; intentional discrimination (treating men in your same situation more favorably), and disparate impact (having policies that appear neutral but produce unequal effects for women).
These examples of sex discrimination may help you decide if you are being discriminated against because of your sex. They are just some examples of how company practices can discriminate against women, and many employers engage in discrimination that is more subtle than some of the examples given below:
Pay: You learn that you are paid less than men doing your same job, or substantially equivalent work, even though you have similar credentials and experience. This could include long-time co-workers or men who are newly hired.
Promotion: You have been successful in your job and have the sort of credentials and experience required for promotion, but men are routinely promoted over you. Some may have less experience and you may have even trained some of them.
Pay Band Advancement: Your company has a job classification system where positions are assigned to pay bands, and a position can be assigned to a higher pay band as the person’s job duties evolve. Your position does not get assigned to a higher pay band when your job duties change, even though similarly qualified men are routinely “moved up.”
Hiring: You are told that you were not hired because you might get married and quit, might get pregnant, you have small children, or that women don’t stay with a job. Or you are told that you did not get hired because the company’s customers or your potential co-workers prefer to deal with men.
Layoffs or firing: You are told that your job is being cut because of the economy or company restructuring, but men in the same job with similar experience, performance, or other credentials keep their jobs. If men are also laid off, they are recalled quicker and in greater numbers than similarly qualified women when the economy improves.
Benefits: You male co-worker has bypass surgery and is granted disability leave under the company’s disability plan, but you are required to take vacation or sick leave time for your pregnancy because the disability plan “doesn’t cover pregnancy.” (Note: if there is no disability plan for either worker, the employer is not required to have one.)
Sexual Harassment: Your supervisor repeatedly tells dirty jokes, keeps provocative material on his desk, or asks you for dates, even though you have told him that the jokes and materials bother you, and you are not interested in seeing him after work. He tells you that you are just a prude, and implies that you should be more receptive if you want to keep your job.
Retaliation: You are fired, demoted, given a different schedule or a negative job evaluation after you complained about sex discrimination or sexual harassment, or after you participated in an investigation of sex discrimination at the company.
Irrelevant job requirements: The employer has requirements for a job that are not related to performance of the job (e.g. height requirements) but which have the effect of excluding women.
Training or support: Your employer routinely gives “plum accounts” to men, assigns staff support to your male co-workers while expecting you to do your own clerical work, or does not provide the same training opportunities to you as male co-workers.
Note: For an exhaustive discussion of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including legal definitions, click on the Legal Momentum link below.
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