Sex Discrimination

Federal law prohibits companies with more than 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of a job applicant’s or an employee’s sex. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from basing a decision to hire, fire, pay, give job assignments, promote, layoff, train, alter benefits, and any other condition of employment on gender unless gender is a genuine qualification for a particular position. This prohibition applies whether the employee is male or female, and is without regard to whether the discrimination is opposite sex-based. In addition, the Fair Pay Act of 1963 prohibits employers from paying men and women different wages for equal work.

New York State and New York City laws also prohibit sex discrimination by employers with more than 4 employees. New York City’s prohibition against gender discrimination includes gender identity, which means employers may not discriminate against transgender individuals.

How do I know if I’m a victim of sex discrimination?

Sex discrimination can be subtle, and each case is dependent on its particular facts. But instances of sex discrimination could include the following:

  • You are a woman, and it’s time for your annual raise. After receiving outstanding reviews, your raise is far less than the raises received by your fellow employees, all of whom are men.
  • You are searching for a job and see a job you want, but the advertisement says the company will only hire men.
  • In a job interview, the employer asks female job applicants if they are married or have children or are planning to have children, but doesn’t ask male applicants the same questions.
  • Women in your workplace are continually passed over for promotion in favor of less-qualified and less senior male employees.
  • Your manager frequently leers at you and comments about appearance, while telling you, “Someone with your good looks will go far in this company.” You tell him he is making you uncomfortable, and ask him to stop talking about your appearance. You notice that after this, he starts giving the work that he used to give you to someone else and that you are becoming marginalized in the company.
  • Valuable accounts or clients are being steered to workers of the opposite sex.
  • You are kept out of strategic meetings in favor of workers of the opposite sex.

I think I have a sex discrimination problem:

  • Act quickly—there is a limited amount of time for you to take legal action.
  • If you were fired and received severance, check the severance agreement to make sure you didn’t waive your rights to claim discrimination. (Even if you did, the waiver may not be valid).
  • Gather written reviews and other documents proving your performance quality, as well as your employee manual, if published.
  • Get in touch with an experienced employment lawyer.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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