Overview: Title VII as well as various state and local laws prohibit discrimination based on sex or gender. Accordingly, an employer should avoid making employment decisions based solely on gender as well as apply all workplace policies in a gender-neutral manner. This means that employers should use the same criteria to evaluate employee performance as well as provide both men and women with equal opportunity in hiring and advancement. Employers should develop a zero tolerance policy for gender discrimination and make sure to provide training to all employees and supervisors.
Further, employers should avoid engaging in unlawful sex stereotyping as well as treating men and women differently based on pregnancy, family and medical leave or caregiving responsibilities. Employers need to understand that the prohibition against sex discrimination not only applies to women, but also prohibits employee discrimination against men. It pertains to any discrimination that is based on an individual's gender and also prohibits sexual harassment.
Trends: Employers should be aware that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has been introduced in the US Congress. It would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women unless it would cause undue hardship for the employer. Further, under the Affordable Care Act, employers are already obligated to provide reasonable breaks for mothers to express milk for up to one year after the child's birth.
Employers should also know that the EEOC has been aggressively pursuing sex discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC has been extremely successful in bringing class action lawsuits based on sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Further, in the landmark case of Macy v. Holder, EEOC No. 0120120821, the EEOC held that claims of discrimination based on gender identity, change of sex, sex stereotyping, and transgender status constitute sex discrimination. Additionally, the EEOC remains committed to providing for equal pay in the workplace.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
The American Civil Liberties Union helped an employee file a federal lawsuit and an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., discriminated against employee Bobbi Bockoras because of her gender and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to provide her time and space to express breast milk at work following the birth of her child.
A unanimous New York City Council recently passed a bill known as the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which if enacted would require employers to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause the employer undue hardship.
A New Jersey Court has ruled that employers may impose reasonable weight and appearance requirements without violating gender discrimination laws under certain circumstances.
The Louisiana Discrimination section has been updated to include the Equal Pay for Women Act, which requires state employers to pay their male and female employees equally for the same or substantially similar work requiring equal skill, effort, education and responsibility and that is performed under similar working conditions including the time worked in the position.
Louisiana state employers should revise their compensation practices and take affirmative steps to prevent wage discrimination due to the state's enactment of the Equal Pay for Women Act. The new law, which mandates equal pay for males and females, takes effect August 1, 2013.
XpertHR's Financial Services Resource Center for HR helps financial services employers handle their most challenging employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
The 5th Circuit unanimously reversed a well-publicized lower court's ruling in a sex discrimination case and held for the first time that lactation is related to pregnancy and, therefore, covered by Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
A sales representative has filed a class action lawsuit against her employer, Merck & Co., seeking $100 million in damages for discrimination against female employees with respect to compensation and promotion opportunities.
The Kentucky Wage Discrimination Because of Sex poster, mandated by the Kentucky Department of Labor, is required by all employers.
Employers in two EEOC cases were sanctioned by federal courts for destroying evidence. These cases illustrate the need for employers to implement document retention programs to preserve their company information and avoid litigation sanctions.
HR Guidance on addressing sex discrimination in the workplace and ensuring equal opportunity for employees and applicants of both genders.