Sex discrimination lawyers represent clients in sexual discrimination claims in Texas employment. Sex discrimination is a broad form of discrimination that affects many aspects of sex and gender. Traditional notions involve the man perpetrating sexual coercion or harassment on a female victim. Sex discrimination and gender discrimination can fit anybody into the perpetrator and victim role. There can be man against woman discrimination, women against man discrimination, man against man discrimination and woman against woman discrimination. Sex discrimination is prohibited by Title VII, Equal Pay Act, Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Texas Labor Code. Working with a sexual harassment attorney can help you navigate these employment laws and demand justice.
How sex discrimination occurs in the Texas workplace
Sex discrimination is prohibited in any part of the employment relationship, from hiring practices through termination of employment. Sex discrimination is prohibited when it has a negative effect on obtaining or keeping a job; as well as the terms and conditions of employment. Common ways sex discrimination can occur:
- Job advertisements
- Application processes and applicant screening
- Pre-employment inquires
- Job referrals
- Job assignments and promotions
- Compensation (both pay and benefits)
- Merit reviews, performance evaluation and raises
- Disciplinary practices
- Terminations, layoffs and reductions in force (RIF)
- Quid pro quo
- Dress code
Common sexual discrimination claims
Sex discrimination is a particularly broad area of discrimination because it includes both discrimination based on physical attributes as well as personal decisions, such as conformity with gender stereotypes. It also includes discriminatory acts where the perpetrator asks the victim for sexual favors or romantic favors in exchange for a benefit or to prevent something negative, which is known as quid pro quo harassment or quid pro quo discrimination. Sex discrimination is not limited to quid pro quo or hostile workplace discrimination. Sex discrimination occurs when an employee is treated less favorably than other employees because of the employee’s sex or gender. If you believe your employer discriminated on the basis of sex then you should contact a Fort Worth and Dallas Texas sexual harassment lawyer right away.
In sex discrimination cases this kind of discrimination often arises in hiring or promotion practices. Women are often the victim of this form of discrimination because they may be stereotyped as “too weak” or “too feminine” to work in manual labor jobs or “too weak”, “too assertive”, “too bitchy”, or “too attractive to be taken seriously” in white collar jobs. Many jobs carry gender or sex stereotypes that one sex or the other should be the only ones to handle those jobs. Some jobs are stereotyped as “male jobs” and some as “female jobs” and the opposite sex may have a hard time getting hired or promoted into those positions. If you believe your employer discriminated against you on a sex stereotype then you should contact a Dallas and Fort Worth Texas employment lawyer about your potential claims.
Gender stereotypes in the workplace
Individual men and women may also be excluded from jobs or otherwise discriminated against because they do not fit traditional gender roles or do not fit the gender role for a particular job. A man might be “too feminine” or even “too masculine” for certain jobs. Similarly, a woman might be “too feminine” or “not feminine enough” for a particular job. Gender stereotypes can also come into play where the job itself has no stereotype attached but the supervisor feels like an individual does not fit into traditional gender stereotypes and does not want “that kind of person” working in that position. Texas sexual harassment lawyers represents clients in gender stereotype discrimination claims.
Compensation discrimination in Texas
Sex discrimination also frequently occurs in compensation, whether it is starting pay, benefits, bonuses, or raises. Overall, women tend to receive less pay than men for the same positions. While there is considerable debate what factors cause this difference in pay on a nationwide scale, there is no debate that in some individual cases women are underpaid compared to men performing the same job and the only reason for the difference is a discriminatory belief that the women work less hard or are less valuable to the position. Men can also be discriminated against in compensation and are particularly vulnerable to compensation discrimination when performing jobs that are traditionally considered “female jobs” because they are seen as less valuable.
Discrimination in compensation is always wrong regardless of which sex the victim is.
Dress code discrimination at work
Women are more vulnerable to sex discrimination in dress or grooming codes than men. Employers are permitted to establish different dress codes for men and women and to an extent can even reinforce certain gender stereotypes, such as requiring women to wear makeup. However, employers cannot establish different dress codes solely for the purpose of sexualizing one sex but not the other. (Where sexualization would not be a regular part of the job, such as a strip club.) For example, women cannot be required to wear low cut tops or form fitting uniforms while men wear loose fitting uniforms.
Quid pro quo harassment or quid pro quo discrimination
Quid pro quo harassment or discrimination occurs when a supervisor demands a subordinate employee perform sexual favors or romantic favors, either to the supervisor or somebody else, in exchange for a job benefit or to prevent a detriment to the job. This is the, “have sex with me or you’re fired” or “if you have sex with me I will give you a raise” form of sex discrimination. This does not have to be male supervisor and female victim. The relationship can work the other way or it can be between two people of the same sex. Quid pro quo does not have to be sex. It can be any sexual contact or romantic affairs, such as agreeing to go on a date with the perpetrator.
Hostile work environment/sexual harassment in Texas
Harassment occurs when the workplace becomes hostile through the acts of coworkers or management. It can occur through words, pictures, emails, job assignments, threats and even physical contact. Harassment becomes actionable as sex discrimination when it begins to negatively affect your job. It is always actionable when management is perpetrating the harassment. If it is your co-workers, it becomes actionable when management has a reasonable opportunity to stop the harassment but fails to do so.
Pregnancy discrimination in Dallas and Fort Worth
Employment law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits treating pregnant women or women who recently gave birth to a child differently from other employees with temporary physical impairments. If the employer would give other workers with temporary disabilities time off or light work duty then it must do the same for pregnant employees. However, if the employer does not accommodate other workers it does not have to do anything special for pregnant employees. Pregnant women are also protected from harassment on the basis of their pregnancy. Pregnant employees may be eligible for FMLA leave for pregnancy-related medical conditions, childbirth and for a period following childbirth. Additionally, if there are pregnancy or childbirth-related long-term physical or mental disabilities they may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Your employer may also retaliate against you for bringing claims of sex discrimination to the attention of management, HR, or a government agency. This retaliation is unlawful and creates an independent claim against your employer. Your right to work free from sex discrimination includes the right to report unlawful discrimination.
Remedies for sex discrimination
The law provides remedies to make a victim of sex discrimination whole. Remedies can ange from requiring the employer to hire/reinstate/promote/etc. to paying lost wages. The specific remedies pursued on an sex discrimination claim depend upon the what negative effects you suffered. If the company was very hostile towards you then it may not make sense to ask the court to reinstate you to your job and instead ask for the company to pay your lost wages.
Handling sex discrimination claims in Texas
Sex discrimination claims follow the same process as other employment discrimination claims, which is a complex process. Sex discrimination claims begin with a charge filed with the federal (EEOC) and state (TWC) discrimination agencies who will investigate your claims of discrimination. The charge must be filed within a limited period of time after the discrimination occurred to preserve your claims.
During the investigation there may be mediation between you and your employer. If there is a finding of discrimination one of the government agencies may decide to file suit against your employer. Then we will work jointly to represent your claims. If neither government agency decides it has enough information to find discrimination occurred then we will pursue litigation on our own. From there, the case may settle or go to trial. All employment discrimination claims are challenging claims for many reasons. The employer controls most of the information that might be out there directly proving discrimination. Often, there is no direct evidence (no smoking gun) of discrimination. Therefore the case must be proven by indirect or circumstantial evidence.