Handling Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

GD-ebinjury-gender-discriminiation-new-york-300x236Although Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act made gender discrimination in the workplace illegal as of 1964, it still unfortunately occurs with alarming regularity. Gender discrimination in the workplace is mistreatment based on your gender, whether or not any overtly sexual remarks are made to you. Gender discrimination happens when your employer passes you over for a promotion or if your employer fires you for because of your gender. But not only then. Inappropriate interactions become harassment under the law when their frequency and severity create a hostile, offensive working environment which makes it difficult to complete your job tasks. Such mistreatment may simply be hostile to you because of your gender, or it may even include demands for sexual contact or overtly sexual remarks; that kind of gender discrimination is called sexual harassment.

Men and women who are victims may not know how to handle gender discrimination in the workplace, instead passively accepting their situation, dreading going into work or even quitting to escape further abuse. Harassers can take many forms, including supervisors, peers or even customers. Victims have rights, they can complain and they deserve justice.

Speak Up
If you are a victim of sexual harassment at work, you are certainly not alone. In 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tracked 11,364 sexual harassment complaints. While you may be tempted to quit to avoid the situation altogether, leaving without giving your employer the chance to make things right perpetuates the situation for other employees and could nullify any claims against your employer you may wish to file in the future. Your employer may be eager to step in and resolve the issue if they are made aware they have a problem with sexual harassment. Even if your employer is not eager, it is very important to raise the issue of gender discrimination before you leave your job, or else your employer will claim it never had the chance to correct the situation. When you do, it is important to do so in writing and in the proper manner. You should not raise the issue with your employer until you have spoken to an attorney, to make sure you legal rights are properly protected when you do raise the issue.

File a Formal Complaint
If you don’t know how to handle gender discrimination in the workplace, read your company’s policies, consult with a lawyer and then with your Human Resources representative and file a formal, written complaint with the company. Include specific details, such as dates and times, and directly quote, whenever possible, what your harasser said and who witnessed each interaction. Use the term “gender discrimination” or ‘sexual harassment’ when recounting each incident of discrimination, hostile remarks or other inappropriate actions made against you based on your gender. After receiving your complaint, your employer should conduct a thorough investigation including interviewing witnesses, yourself and the harasser. Disciplinary actions for your harasser may include education, sanction, retraining, or transferring or termination of your harasser. You may also be entitled to have your harasser transferred away from your workplace, or to be transferred yourself.

Take Legal Action
If you have followed your company’s policies but gender discrimination continues, you can consider taking action to put a stop to the mistreatment . Pursuing a legal case holds your employer accountable, protects other employees at your job and allows you to obtain monetary compensation for the turmoil you have suffered. Lawyers who specialize in handling sexual harassment cases can represent and advocate for you, while protecting you from retaliation and job loss. Relying on an experienced attorney can give you peace of mind, confidence and support during this time of stress.

Get Compensation
A person who proves they are the victim of gender discrimination can get various kinds of compensation in court. They can get lost past and future wages, they can get compensation for emotional pain and suffering, and if they can prove the employer’s actions were willful they can get punitive damages. They can also get their attorneys fees.

If you are a victim of gender discrimination and would like to see if you have a case, please contact us at 212-353-8700.

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