Sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace has been an ongoing problem for decades. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex; however, many women today are still experiencing sexism, discrimination and harassment at work. Oftentimes, office sexism is subtle, difficult to prove and indicative of a “man’s world” culture that pervades throughout many industries.
Almost 20 years ago, Andee Harris started an HR tech company with family-friendly benefits that supported and provided opportunities for women in the workplace. However, after the firm was acquired by another company in 2011, Harris was subjected to workplace sexism as the only female member of the executive board. The executive team began holding an annual strategic planning retreat at a male-only hunting lodge in Montana. Harris was told by the firm’s CEO that she would have to miss the retreat because the lodge did not allow female guests. When she insisted on attending, the CEO called the lodge and arranged for them to allow an exception; however, the damage was done and Harris left the company shortly after.
Many women have reported experiencing subtle forms of sex discrimination at work. A man may be chosen for a promotion over a woman because he is a better fit culturally, rather than because he is more qualified. Women are often talked over in male-dominated board meetings, and their ideas are often overlooked. Women’s opinions in the workplace are also often dismissed or ignored; however, when a male coworker presents the same ideas, he receives credit for his ingenuity.
Sexual harassment at work is a more overt form of sex discrimination that can result in stiff penalties for employers. Quid pro quo harassment (in which employment benefits are offered in exchange for sexual favors,) unwanted sexual advances and offensive remarks, comments or jokes constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that in 2015, $125.5 million was awarded in 5,518 sexual harassment settlements. Since 2010, $698.7 million has been awarded to victims of workplace sexual harassment through the EEOC’s pre-litigation process alone.
Unfortunately, many women who experience sexual harassment at work do not speak up, often for fear of retaliation. If you have experienced sex discrimination or sexual harassment at work, call Sidney L. Gold & Associates at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Our experienced Philadelphia employment discrimination lawyers fight for the rights of working women throughout the greater Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and New York.