Federal and state laws prohibit a broad range of discriminatory conduct based on an individual’s sex. This includes:
- Refusing to hire or fire someone
- Refusing to promote
- Discriminating with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, providing training or access to equipment
- Classifying employees in a way that deprives them of opportunities
In addition, it is a violation of the law to refuse or fail to prevent or eliminate sexual harassment. These types of cases are often referred to as “hostile work environment” cases. Likewise, quid pro quo sexual harassment—where a person in position of authority offers a reward in exchange for sexual favors or threatens punishment if an employee refuses to perform sexual favors—is also prohibited.
Although women are traditionally thought of as the targets of sexual discrimination men are often victims of sex discrimination as well. And the law also recognizes that same-sex sexual harassment occursl.
The signature element in all these cases is unequal treatment or harassment on the basis of sex or gender. This encompasses a wide range of behavior, some of which may be a surprise. It has been held to include, for example, harassment of a man for being effeminate and not fitting into the typical “macho” male stereotype. And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently taken the position that Federal law prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals as discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.
These are serious cases in an area of the law that is continuously and quickly changing. If you suspect that you are a victim of sex discrimination in one of its many forms, please contact our office and arrange for a consultation.