Sadly, gender discrimination in the workplace is a still common problem, despite laws being in place to prevent it from happening. Men and women are very capable of having the same intelligence and skills necessary for just about every job out there. There’s been a long and unappealing history of discrimination of women in the workplace. On this webpage, we discuss the following topics regarding gender discrimination in the workplace and how it applies to both men and women:
- California’s Gender Discrimination Law
- Proving Disparate Treatment
- What is Considered Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?
- What Can Be Recovered in a Gender Discrimination Lawsuit?
- How Much Can You Get in a Gender Discrimination Lawsuit?
- Statute of Limitations
- How Much Does a Gender Discrimination Attorney Cost?
- Workplace Sex or Gender Discrimination Lawyer
The below whiteboard video gives an excellent overview of this area of law without any legal jargon. But after you watch the video, make sure that you read the rest of this page. It is critically important! Even after doing that, please realize that reading this page is not a substitute for discussing your case with an employment lawyer.
California’s Gender Discrimination in the Workplace Law
Many people have heard of the federal law that protects employees from being discriminated in the workplace; it’s called Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following the example of Title VII, California passed the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which was developed to share the same principle, with several differences pertaining to only California residents. FEHA not only protects employees discriminated against due to their gender, but also their gender identity which is not covered under Title VII (Government Code § 12940). Gender identity is the sex in which a person identifies with and can be different than their assigned sex at birth. Sex discrimination also includes the discriminatory acts against women because of a pregnancy, childbirth, and/or related-medical conditions.
Proving Disparate Treatment
Rarely will an employer admit that he/she acted in a discriminatory manner towards an employee. In order to have a good case, your discrimination lawyer will need to be able to provide proof that the discrimination against you was done based on your gender. The proof is usually in the form of showing disparate treatment. “Disparate treatment” is a fancy phrase which means the employee was treated differently than other employees who have similar circumstances. In the case of gender discrimination in the workplace, the employee will need to provide evidence that he/she was treated differently than an equal co-worker of a differing gender.
Examples of workplace gender discrimination:
Example 1 – Lauren is paid 20% less than Joe even though they both have the exact same qualifications for their exact same jobs – just because she is a woman; this can be seen as gender discrimination in the workplace.
Example 2 – Jacob, is fired for taking home leftover food from the restaurant one night, when another employee, Susan, did the same thing but wasn’t fired. Jacob could sue for gender discrimination.
What is Considered Gender Discrimination at Work?
According to FEHA, sex or gender discrimination in the workplace can be through many types of actions by the employer, including:
- Refusing to hire (i.e. Kyle Hunter not hired as a weather news anchor because of his gender – Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting Inc.)
- Not allowing the employee to be trained, but letting the opposite gender to be trained
- Wrongfully disciplined, but the opposite gender isn’t disciplined for the same actions
- Being demoted due to gender
- Getting a pay cut or decreased benefits due to gender
- Not getting an increase in pay or benefits as similar employees
- Giving an employee different terms or conditions of employment due to sex
- Firing an employee due to gender
- Sexual harassment can also be a form of sex discrimination. (Not allowing women to wear pants or not allowing a pregnant woman to take pregnancy leave)
What Can Be Recovered in a Gender Discrimination Lawsuit?
If you go forward with a gender discrimination lawsuit, you can recover these following damages:
- Lost income wages and benefits
- Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses
- Compensatory damages for emotional/mental pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
- Attorney’s fees
The employee may also be entitled to equitable relief, with the intention of making the employee “whole” again. This “equitable” relief may include hiring, promoting, or reinstating the employee, depending on the case; it would be like getting the plaintiff in the position as if the gender discrimination never happened.
How Much Can You Get in a Gender Discrimination Lawsuit?
As mentioned previously that there are subtle differences between Title VII and FEHA, compensation is one of those differences. If a gender discrimination lawsuit is settled or won under Title VII, there is a compensatory and punitive damages limit of $300,000; whereas, there are no limits under the FEHA. If you’re unfamiliar with what these damages are, see below:
Compensatory damages – the money awarded to replace what was lost, such as income if the employee was wrongfully fired due to his/her gender
Punitive damages – The money awarded to “punish” the defendant. This goes above the simple compensation amount due to the plaintiff.
Most employment cases, not only those of workplace gender discrimination, are settled. Settlements are confidential, so we don’t have a number to provide an average settlement amount. However, most employment cases settle for under $50,000. Every case is different though, so you should not expect this result from your lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
Under FEHA, the statute of limitations is 365 days. You generally have one year from the date of the discriminatory act to get a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH. If you are working with a lawyer, he/she will likely be the one to obtain this letter for you. When you receive the right-to sue letter, you’ll have one year from this date to begin your case in court or for arbitration.
If you work for a public entity, we highly recommend that you speak with an employment lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is different for employees of public companies.
How Much Does a Discrimination Attorney Cost?
If your employment is in question due to discrimination, you may be weary of hiring an employment lawyer because of the cost. Luckily, employment lawyers usually take these gender discrimination cases on a contingency basis. This means that you only have to pay the lawyer if he/she successfully recovers monetary damages for your case. There is no money that is paid out of pocket. You and the lawyer will agree on a percentage of the award, before the case begins. If there are any costs involved in the case, the law office will pay for these upfront and be reimbursed once you receive the award/settlement at the end.
Workplace Sex or Gender Discrimination Attorney
It’s important that you speak with a discrimination attorney as soon as you can because of the statute of limitations. Providing evidence in a case of gender discrimination isn’t easy, so it’s highly recommended that you choose to work with a discrimination lawyer that has experience with these types of cases, like us. We will provide you with a free over-the-phone consultation when you give us a call or fill out the contact form. We never charge for case evaluations and calling us does not establish any form or attorney-client relationship.