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Sex or gender discrimination is treating a job applicant or an employee differently solely because the individual is a woman or a man. The law covering sex or gender discrimination encompasses a broad array of issues that employees may encounter in the workplace, including sexual harassment, equal pay, the “glass ceiling” phenomenon, pregnancy discrimination, and marital or parental status discrimination.

The law requires equal treatment, policies, standards and practices for females and males in all phases of the employment process, including recruiting, hiring, firing, placement, promotion, advancement or work opportunity, job training, job assignment, working conditions, compensation, benefits, layoffs, and other term, condition, or privilege of employment.

The law forbids employment decisions based on stereotypes, assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals on the basis of sex or gender. Although the use of the terms “sex” and “gender” are often interchangeable, sex discrimination refers to discrimination based on an individuals biological identity as male or female while gender discrimination refers to discrimination based on characteristics of an individual that are culturally associated with “masculinity” or “femininity.” The law prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on sex, gender, or both.

A few examples of possible sex or gender discrimination include but are not limited to the following:

  • Your employer makes benefits available to the wives and families of male employees where the same benefits are not available to the husbands and families of female employees.
  • Your employer refuses to hire you or to promote you because you are not as assertive or as fostering as the opposite sex.
  • Your employer gives you exemplary reviews but you are fired, laid off, or frequently passed over for promotions that are filled by less qualified and less senior individuals of the opposite sex.
  • Your employer is tougher with you and other coworkers of the same sex as you than they are with coworkers of the opposite sex.
  • Your employer recently hired an employee of the opposite sex with similar training and work experience as you. You find out that he or she will be paid more than you.
  • Company policies that appear neutral create the effect of disproportionate exclusion of individuals on the basis of sex.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

The law prohibits intentional discrimination in compensation based on sex in general. Additionally, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) specifically requires employers to equally pay employees performing the same job regardless of their sex. If you discover that you are not getting paid the same as a colleague of the opposite sex, who does to a large extent the same job as you, with the same employer, and there is no legitimate business reason for the difference in pay, then you may have a sex discrimination claim under the EPA.

Equal pay encompasses all forms of compensation, including but not limited to salary, benefits, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, incentive restricted stock plans, expense allowances and reimbursement.

The Glass Ceiling

The “glass ceiling” refers to the invisible barrier based on discriminatory attitudes and biases that prevents qualified women and minorities from advancing into top management positions. In other words, women can advance only so far in the corporate ladder before they hit a glass ceiling and can advance no farther. If all women cannot go further above a certain position, then all women are being discriminated against in promotion and hiring. If you feel you have been discriminated against based on a “glass ceiling” at your company, you may be able to bring a claim under federal, state, and/or local laws.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in various terms and conditions of employment. Pregnancy discrimination protects pregnant employees from employment discrimination, and is considered to be a form of sex discrimination.

Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability under the law. Employers must give pregnant employees the same treatment and benefits they give to employees with temporary disabilities. This policy should be clearly stated. For example, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave. Severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, and other related medical conditions all fall under this law.

Philadelphia Sex and Gender DiscriminationPregnancy discrimination may occur in a number of situations, including but not limited to the following:

  • You are a well-qualified candidate for a position but a company refuses to hire you because you are pregnant, or they tell you to come back when you are ready to work after you have your child.
  • Your employer fired or demoted you, or took away all your responsibilities, immediately after learning that you are pregnant, although you are still able to work for several more months.
  • You returned from pregnancy-related leave and your employer refused to give you the same or a similar position you held before your leave and there was no business condition preventing your position still being available.
  • You are pregnant and your employer treats you differently than other temporarily disabled employees.
  • You need to miss work to visit your doctor for prenatal care. You are disciplined for taking time off, even though other workers who miss work for ongoing medical treatment are not disciplined.

Marital Status or Parental Status Discrimination

Marital status or parental status discrimination are considered forms of sex or gender discrimination. Assumptions and stereotypes about gender identity generally motivate discriminatory acts based on marital or parental status.

Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from treating employees differently because of their status as single or married, or because of their status as parents in all phases of employment, including but not limited to: recruitment, hiring, firing, training, advancement, compensation, benefits, and other terms or privileges of employment.

A few examples of marital status or parental status discrimination include but are not limited to:

  • You are not hired because you are a woman with young children but a man with young children is hired.
  • Your employer refuses to train or promote, or assign significant work opportunities to married women while giving such training, promotion & work opportunities to married men and single employees.

Other examples of discrimination in the workplace:

Call Philadelphia sex and gender discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C., today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free assessment with a qualified PA employment lawyer regarding the details of your sex or gender discrimination claim.

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