Gender Discrimination Lawyers
Texas gender discrimination lawyers represent employees and applicants who suffer employment discrimination because of their gender or sex. Several federal and Texas employment laws protect employees from gender discrimination. These laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Texas Labor Code. If you believe your employer discriminated against you on the basis of your gender then you should talk to a Texas employment discrimination lawyer right away.
Gender discrimination in the Texas workplace
Texans may suffer discrimination at work because of their gender in many ways. People often think of gender discrimination or sex discrimination as sexual harassment. While sexual harassment is undoubtedly a form of gender discrimination, it is not the only form. Other examples of gender discrimination in the workplace include:
- Threatening victims of sexual harassment with adverse employment actions or violence if they report harassment;
- Favoring employees and applicants who adhere to sex or gender stereotypes over those that do not;
- Firing an employee to cover up sexual harassment or discrimination;
- Punishing women for being assertive when men would be rewarded for the same behavior;
- Favoring one sex over the other in hiring, promotions, bonuses and job opportunities;
- Paying men more than women although equally qualified and performing the same job duties;
- Allowing the workplace to become a hostile work environment on the basis of sex or gender;
- Creating gender-based dress codes that burden one sex over the other with no relation to the job;
- Making employment decisions based upon sexual orientation;
- Discriminating against pregnant mothers, childbirth and maternity leave.
Gender 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. Gender discrimination is not limited to quid pro quo harassment or hostile workplace discrimination. Gender discrimination occurs in any situation when an employee is treated less favorably than other employees because of the employee’s sex or gender. Gender discrimination can occur at any time during the employment relationship from hiring to termination. If you believe your employer discriminated against you on the basis of your gender, then you should talk to a Texas employment lawyer about your case.
Employment lawyers for sexual harassment claims
Sexual harassment is not only an unlawful form of employment discrimination but in many cases is also a criminal act. Sexual harassment becomes a crime of sexual assault if the harasser touches you in a sexual manner that is unwelcome or against your will. If you are offered a job, promotion, or pay increase in exchange for sex, then it may also constitute criminal solicitation. Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code.
There are two forms of sexual harassment under employment discrimination laws:
- Hostile work environment
- Quid pro quo
Hostile work environment
Hostile work environment-based harassment claims arises when the employee is subject to severe or pervasive offensive conduct related to the employee’s gender or sex. A claim arises when the offensive conduct is so severe or pervasive that the workplace becomes intimidating, hostile, or abusive, and enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or it results in an adverse employment action. The participants in a hostile environment can be anybody in your workplace. It may be managers, coworkers, clients, customers, or vendors.
There is no bright line test for when offensive conduct becomes unlawful. The legal standard is:
- did the employee find the conduct so offensive that it became intimidating, hostile, or abusive; AND
- would a reasonable person agree.
The offensive conduct may include derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, threats, ridicule, mockery, unwelcome touching, offensive objects or pictures and interference with work performance. Individual comments or acts generally do not meet the legal standard unless it involves unwelcome sexual touching.
Quid pro quo harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when the employer bases an employment decision on the employee’s willingness or lack of willingness to engage in sexual or romantic acts with a supervisor. The employer may promise a promotion or pay raise in exchange for sexual favors or a date. Alternatively, the employer may threaten to demote, fire, or otherwise harm the employee’s job if the employee does not engage in sexual or romantic acts. The employer’s promises to benefit the employee if the employee would be more receptive to sexual or romantic advances is a form of quid pro quo harassment.
Gender stereotypes in discrimination
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 considered “too feminine” or even “too masculine” for certain jobs. Similarly, a woman might be considered “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.
These gender stereotypes also become an issue in gender discrimination cases involving sexual orientation discrimination and transgender discrimination at work. Unfortunately in many workplaces employers continue to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ employees and applicants.
Sexual orientation discrimination
Texans may face sexual orientation discrimination, especially when they are gay or lesbian. This form of gender discrimination may occur because the supervisor does not want gay or lesbian employees. The employer may become a hostile work environment when the supervisor or others in the workplace harass the employee for their orientation or because they do not fit traditional gender stereotypes. Gay and lesbian employees can also face sexual harassment from a supervisor who attempts to coerce a sexual or romantic relationship with a quid pro quo threat or promise. Same sex harassment is still sexual harassment.
Discriminating against transgender employees and applicants is another form of gender discrimination. Like sexual orientation-based gender discrimination, transgender people can also face gender discrimination in many forms. An employer may discriminate against transgender workers like any other employee in hiring, firing, promoting, paying and other supervisory decisions. Transgender employees can also face discrimination due to dress codes.
Transgender employees are particularly vulnerable to gender-based harassment at work. The employer may allow the workplace to become a hostile work environment with derogatory comments about the transgender employee’s transition, gender stereotypes, or sexual orientation. A hostile work environment may also arise from singling out transgender employees for different restroom policies, intrusive questions about their transition, or exposing employees as transgender to humiliate them. Transgender workers can also face sexual harassment at work. A supervisor who attempts to coerce a sexual or romantic relationship with a quid pro quo threat or promise is still sexual harassment no matter the employee’s identity.
Equal pay for equal work
Federal and Texas employment discrimination statutes prohibit gender-based pay discrimination. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to pay men and women the same compensation for equivalent work. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits pay discrimination as a form of gender discrimination. The Texas Labor Code similarly prohibits gender-based pay discrimination. If you believe you are paid less at work due to your gender, then you should schedule a consultation with a Texas gender discrimination attorney.
Additionally, gender-based pay discrimination may occur unintentionally through a neutral policy. Your employer may have established compensation, hiring, or promotion policies that lack a discriminatory intent but by operation the policy created different pay between men and women with similar qualifications performing the same work. This is known as a disparate impact claim. Just because the employer did not intend to discriminate does not mean that the victims of the discrimination should continue to suffer inequality at work.
Pregnancy discrimination at work
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. Alternatively, 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 gender discrimination to the attention of management, HR, or a government agency. This is unlawful under employment discrimination statutes. You have the right to a workplace free from gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Part of that right is the right to participate in acts to bring discrimination to an end and perpetrators to justice. You have the right to:
- Report gender discrimination and sexual harassment internally or to a relevant government agency;
- Demand that a harasser stop harassing you;
- File a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission;
- File a lawsuit against the employer and other appropriate parties related to gender discrimination and sexual harassment;
- Participate in an internal or external investigation, hearing, deposition, or lawsuit of another employee or applicant’s complaint.
If your employer harasses you or takes an adverse employment action against you for participating in one of these acts, then your employer unlawfully retaliated against you. You have the right to pursue a retaliation claim against your employer. If you are the victim of gender discrimination and your employer retaliated against you for speaking up, then you have two independent claims against your employer to pursue.
Contact a Texas employment lawyer for your gender discrimination claims
Gender discrimination can be a humiliating and sometimes life changing event. If you suffered gender discrimination at work, then you should contact a Texas gender discrimination lawyer right away. Your attorney can assess your situation and advise you how to deal with the situation at work and what claims you may have to pursue. Employment discrimination claims are complex claims with administrative requirements and short time periods which you must satisfy to protect and pursue your claims. The longer you wait to contact an employment lawyer the more you risk losing the right to demand justice.