Sex Discrimination and Gender Discrimination
Sex discrimination claims by workers are most often filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Although most sex discrimination claims are filed by women, Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender and are sometimes filed by men. In addition to Title VII, sex discrimination claims are commonly filed under two other federal laws – the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA).
Sex discrimination prohibited under Title VII includes discrimination based on pregnancy, sex stereotyping, and sexual harassment. Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but some state discrimination laws do.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal legislation that would add sexual orientation as a protected class against discrimination, has been proposed but failed in the past few years. But it is expected that President Obama and the a stronger Democratic majority in Congress will pass and enact the law in 2009.
In the past 10 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has received between 23,000 and 25,000 sex discrimination charges by each year, making it the second most common discrimination charge filed with the EEOC.
HR Guide to Employment Law: A practical compliance reference manual covering 14 topics, including discrimination
Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The Pregnancy Discrimiantion Act is actually part of Title VII, but often mentioned on its own. The Act prohibits employers from discriminating against women because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act, which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), prohibits pay discrimination because of an employee’s gender but does not apply to any other protected characteristic. It prohibits discrimination against both men and women.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act changes when the statute of limitations begins for workers’ claims of pay discrimination under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to declare that an unlawful employment practice occurs not only when a discriminatory pay decision or practice is adopted but also when the employee becomes subject to the decision or practice, as well as each additional application of that decision or practice. In other words, each time compensation is paid.
Family responsibility discrimination. The EEOC has spotlighted types of discrimination that employees may experience in the workplace because of their caregiving and family responsibilities for children and elderly parents. This is a prime example of sex discrimination based on sexual sterotypes.
What happens when an employee files a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC? Before an employee can file a sex discrimination complaint against her employer under Title VII, she must file a charge with the EEOC. If the EEOC finds the claim has merit, it may sue on her behalf. If it decides not to represent the employee, it will issue her a “right-to-sue” letter and then she can file a complaint and begin the litigation process.