Understanding Gender Discrimination Laws in Texas
When employment decisions are based on an individual’s sex, a form of employment discrimination called gender discrimination occurs. Gender discrimination can encompass actual or perceived sex, appearance, behavior, expression, gender identity, and the sex assigned to an individual at birth. Gender discrimination is a significant problem for many employees in the state of Texas.
Skilled legal representation is often able to help individuals who have experienced gender discrimination obtain adequate compensation including lost wages, payment for pain and suffering, promotions, and reinstatement after termination from a position.
How Gender Discrimination Occurs
Gender discrimination can occur in a variety of hiring decisions. Gender discrimination is often thought to include women in cases involving pregnancy discrimination. Males, however, can also be subject to gender discrimination.
Some examples of gender discrimination include:
- Sexist comments or jokes;
- failing to hire an individual due to gender;
- creating a hostile work environment for individuals of a specific gender;
- denying an employee a certain type of promotion or benefit on the basis of gender, and;
- providing an employee with negative reviews on the basis of that individual’s gender.
Gender discrimination most often occurs in the following areas:
- Both genders with similar employment positions should be entitled to the same type of insurance. Benefits that are available to one gender should be available to other.
- The Glass Ceiling. A large number of women experience the “glass ceiling” in their employment position. A “glass ceiling” occurs when the barrier between genders creates immovable limitations on a woman’s career advancement.
- Hiring and Terminating Employee Positions. Individuals who have the requisite experience and skill set should be hired for a position regardless of sex. Similarly, individuals who receive excellent employee reviews should be eligible for promotions regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, gender discrimination is known to occur in both areas.
- Pay and Work Details. One sex does not deserve more pay or better working details than another sex if both genders are performing the same work. Similarly, individuals should not receive less favorable assignment or less desirable work due to gender identification.
- Sexual Harassment. Employees cannot be abused, assaulted, mistreats, or ridiculed on the basis of gender identity.
Sexual harassment is a particularly common type of gender discrimination and involves a complicated and unique set of laws and principles.
Some of the types of conduct that is included in the definition of sexual harassment are employment offers made in exchange for sexual favors, threats made in retaliation to a victim’s negative response to sexual advances, unwelcome sexual advances, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, visual conduct of a sexual nature, and written or electronic communication that is unwanted and sexual in nature.
In many situations, an employer can be found strictly liable for sexual harassment that is committed by an employee’s supervisor.
Sexual harassment is frequently divided into: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo refers to situations in which a supervisor offers preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors from the employees. The hostile work environment type of sexual harassment can be caused by any individual in the organization and can include: degrading remarks, inappropriate questions, lewd and sexually explicit conversations, and unwanted physical contact.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
Both federal and state laws protect workers from gender discrimination. There are some situations in which gender discrimination is allowed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate based on gender in relationship to any type of term of employment.
Employees are required to pay both male and females equal pay if a male and female hold the same jobs with the same responsibilities in the same work environment.
If gender is considered a “bona fide occupational qualification” then discrimination based solely on gender is permitted.
State and federal law also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who complain about gender discrimination. There are certain time limitations within which an individual must file a complaint based on gender discrimination.
Under federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an individual must file a complaint within 300 days after the most recent gender discrimination occurrence.
The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
In addition to the civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 exists, which is intended to allow employees to challenge longstanding pay inequities.
Reversing a precedent established by the Supreme court, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination restarts with each new paycheck that is affected by the employer’s discriminatory action and received by the employee.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
In addition to Title VII, the Equal Pay Act expressly bans the unequal treatment and compensation of female employees. The Equal Pay Act requires that an employer pay men and women the same for equal work.
The law prohibits specific employers from discriminating against employees by compensating employees of one sex less less than employees of the other sex for equal work on jobs that requires similar effort, responsibility, and skill.
There are several particular exceptions to the Equal Pay Act, however, including: a merit system, or a seniority system which measures earnings by quality or quantity.
The Equal Pay Act has significantly helped to close the large pay divided in the workforce in which companies paid women less money to perform the same jobs as men.
The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act
Under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, individuals must file a gender discrimination complaint within 180 days after the most recent event involving gender discrimination.
There are laws in place that also extend the power of this Act to employees who experience retaliatory action from employers. In accordance with the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, an employer is not permitted to retaliate against an individual who: assists, files a complaint, makes a file or charges, opposes a discriminatory act, or testifies.