Gender stereotyping is having or promoting a fixed, preconceived idea of how people should look or behave based on their gender. Discrimination against protected classes of workers is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; this includes gender discrimination. Although Title VII does not specifically mention gender identity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the courts have said that it is illegal for an employer to permit harassment or deny a worker employment opportunities on the basis of gender stereotypes. Forms of illegal stereotyping include the following:
- A female employee does not behave or dress in a feminine manner
- A male employee dresses or behaves effeminately
- An employee marries or plans to marry a person of the same sex
- An employee is transitioning from one gender to another
- An employer only hires men or women for a particular position
The only exception to the last example would be if the employer has a bona fide occupational qualification, such as a theater director casting only women in women’s roles or vice versa. More subtle signs of gender stereotyping may include employers expecting men to act tough or women to be sympathetic. Also, an employer may require women, not men, to do certain duties, such as refill the coffee pot or clean the company kitchen, which could be considered discrimination.
Do I Have a Case?
Anytime employees are harassed, face retaliation in the workplace, or otherwise discriminated against because they are not conforming to gender stereotypes, they may have a legally valid discrimination claim. The discrimination can take place at any point during the employee-employer relationship, including during recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, or termination.
In a recent case, a court found that an employee had a viable discrimination claim based on gender stereotyping. The plaintiff was a freezer inspector subjected to repeated harassment by a Human Resources representative. The victim never made a formal complaint because of the defendant’s superiority. However, he did on numerous occasions ask the Human Resources representative to stop calling him derogatory names. The harassment did not stop, and the plaintiff was terminated after 11 years of service.
What If I am a Victim of Gender Stereotyping?
If you believe you are a victim of gender stereotyping at work, document the incidents carefully and report them to your company’s Human Resources department and to your supervisor. It is particularly important to keep detailed records about how and when you reported the incidents, and the responses you received.
If your complaints are ignored or if you suffer retaliation, the next step is to seek legal guidance from an experienced employment discrimination lawyer. A skilled attorney will help you decide whether you should file a claim with your state agency, the federal EEOC, or pursue a lawsuit.
Philadelphia Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Workers Suffering from Gender Stereotypes
If you were discriminated against at work because you did not conform to gender stereotypes, reach out to one of our Philadelphia employment discrimination lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.