Gender /Sex Discrimination in the Work Place
Gender /Sex Discrimination in the Work Place
Thirty five years after civil rights act of 1964 was passed, female workers amounting to 80% are still doing the ‘women work. ’ Some as secretaries, others are sales clerks while others are support workers in the administrations. In the year 1993, only 19 women found themselves among the directors in the country and more than 500 boards had no female members. In 1999, the New York Times conducted a poll and found out that the biggest problem women were facing in America at that time was job discrimination. In the same year, working women were so much concerned about the wage gap between them and their male counterparts.
Although the law came to prohibit these discriminations they continued even after (Mayor, 2010). This essay seeks to find out what the law is all about and who are covered in the law. It also seeks to differentiate between sexual and gender identity discriminations and sexual harassment based on some case studies. The federal law title VII, criminalizes any harassment or discrimination in the work place. It encompasses or covers all the employers in the private sector, state and local governments including education institutions which employ 15 workers and above (HR Hero, nd).
Other groups that are covered by the law include; government agencies, political sub divisions, labor unions, associations, corporations, companies among others (US Equal Opportunity Commission, nd). The term employee as used in the act refers to a person who is involved in industrial activities that affect the commerce of the county and has more than 15 workers under him. It also refers to corporations that belong to the government or the Indian tribes and any department in the District of Columbia.
The word also includes clubs that have private membership which do not pay tax as provided by the law. The term employment agency as used in the act refers to those persons who are involved in searching for employees on behalf of the employers either with or without compensation. Another group that is covered in the law is the labor organization. This refers to all those labor organizations which are affecting commerce in one way or another. This may also include the agents of these labor organizations and also committees that represent employees.
Those groups which are involved or deal with grievances of the workers are also covered in the law (US Equal Opportunity Commission, nd). Apart from prohibiting discrimination in the work place based on sex, race, color, religion basis and national origin, it goes further to prohibit discriminations based on pregnancies, sexual stereotypes and sexual harassment against the employees. Currently, the law does not include discriminations based on sexual orientations but under the employment non –discrimination act, that kind of discrimination is covered.
Many states have implemented this law and they have included more classes to be covered for example, marital status (HR Hero, nd). Civil rights act of 1964 has so many provisions in regards to employers and employees in the work place. Under section 2000e-2, the law declares that, it is unlawful for the employer to discriminate against any individual in regards to terms of payment, compensation package or privileges that the employment offers based on his /her race, gender, country of origin, color and religion.
The law continues to say that any employer, who will be found imposing limitations to his workers, preventing them from accessing employment opportunities based on the above mentioned discrimination grounds, will be criminalized (Find US Law, 2008). Both employment agencies and labor organizations have also been put on notice by the law in that, when they fail to employ a person based on race, sex color among other factors, then they will also face the law. The term ‘based on sex’ here, refers to, based on pregnancy or medical conditions that are related to it and child birth.
In the act, the law requires that all women affected by the above mentioned conditions, should be treated equally just like their male counter parts in regards to work related issues. This also applies to the benefits that they are supposed to be given. The condition that they are in should not limit them to enjoy their benefits just like other workers who are not in their condition. These provisions are included in section 2000e-2(h). This section does not allow the employer to pay for abortion benefits unless the life of the mother is in danger (US Equal Opportunity Commission, nd).
Moreover, under this section it is considered unlawful when an employer comes up with standards of compensation or privileges and earning measuring system with an intention of discriminating employees based on the earlier mentioned factors. They are also forbidden to come up with ability tests whose results are intended to discriminate individuals. An employer is also not supposed to be biased when it comes to determining the amount of money he is going to pay his workers especially when based on sex.
This can only be allowed when it has been provided for in the section 206(d) of the labor standard act of 1938, title 29 as amended (US Equal Opportunity Commission, nd). This law makes the employers responsible to prevent sexual harassment cases among their employees. They are supposed to take caution in regards to sexual harassment and correct any instance of it in the work place (Equal Rights Advocates, 2010). Differences between sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and gender identity discrimination Sexual Discrimination
Sexual discrimination is mostly associated with the employers but if can also be committed by other employees. When this happens, the employer would be held responsible. There are two types of sexual discrimination; direct and indirect. The former refers to those situations where women at work place are treated with less favor than their male counter parts because of either their gender or marital status. Direct discrimination also comes in when treating a woman less favorably because she is pregnant or has gone for a maternity leave and this can extend even to pregnancy related illnesses.
This mostly happens for example when a woman has gone for an interview and the interviewer only concentrates on the domestic circumstances of the interviewee (Thomson’s Solicitors, 2010). Another instance of discrimination based on gender comes in when a man who is less qualified than a woman is employed instead of her or when a man who is less experienced in the work place is promoted. Sometimes they are given excuses that those jobs are dirty ones and that there are no good toilet facilities for them.
Sometimes, employers can be so cruel to the extent that, they can demote a woman because of her pregnancy or just immediately after maternity leave. In addition, sex discrimination comes in when a woman employee is not allowed to see clients or meet them for that matter and sometimes she cannot be invited to social events and instead a male colleague is chosen over her (Thomson’s Solicitors, 2010). Indirect discrimination refers to the adoption of some policies or practices in the places of work by employers.
These policies are in one way or another disadvantageous to one gender than the other, even though they may appear on the surface to treat them equally. For example, an employer may require his employees to work full time and this disadvantages most women by barring them to take such a job. Some examples of this kind of discrimination include; some employers imposing age bars to their workers which can affect women negatively because most of them take time out to go to bring up children and thus these age bars will mean that, they will acquire their qualifications later than men (Thomson’s Solicitors, 2010).
Some employers may also give their workers some benefits as a result of working for long in an institution and this will definitely not favor women who have decided to take time out to go and bring up children. Clauses related to mobility are also out to work against women in that, they may have difficulties when it comes to relocation because of their families and sometimes because of relying on their husbands as primary earners in the house. Some employers also go to the extent of requiring their workers to provide weight and height measurements and this will favor male workers more than their female counter parts.
Lastly, those employers who require their employees to work in those hours which are unsocial may disadvantage women who have family commitments especially those who have children to care for (Thomson’s Solicitors, 2010). A case study related to this kind of discrimination involves a woman who had worked for a water transport business for some time but in her case, she was working in an office. Later, she decided to apply for a job in the same company but as a deck hand. In the process of application, she expressed her desire to acquire a captain’s license.
She later complained that her male colleagues made her feel not welcome because they started to make such comments like how the job would be too dirty and heavy for her (Anti-Discrimination Commission, 2004). A time came when the business was facing some financial crisis and the company decided to do away with a particular service and this led to work hours for deck –hands to be reduced. As a result, the company shortened her water –time and this made her lose hours and opportunities in training and career. Her complaints to the company over the issue on how male counter parts were being favored in regards to time were futile.
She sued them and as a result, she won the case and a compensation of $12,000. The company’s administration was directed to carry out anti-discrimination training among its workers (Anti-Discrimination Commission, 2004). This case study applies to discrimination among the workers themselves. Some companies also discriminate when it comes to offering services. In a case study, a woman wanted to be served by a certain company and in the process, she sought an appointment with the management for an in-home quote. The company’s representatives told her that it would be better if her husband was present for the quote.
In her astonishment, she asked if the same procedures would apply on both of them regardless of who was present but they ignored her. The company gave some excuses regarding the matter stating that singles or widows were allowed to be accompanied by friends. The company was directed by a court to provide written apology to her and also to develop an anti-discrimination policy in the work place (Anti-Discrimination Commission, 2004). Sexual harassment When it comes to sexual harassment, it is perceived as a form of sexual discrimination.
It can be defined legally as any unwelcome behavior or conduct that is of sexual nature and can be expressed through the word of mouth, physical means or even through the eyes; the conduct having severe consequences affecting the working environment in a negative way, making it be hostile. This means that any conduct that is welcome is not sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be committed verbally or written by commenting on how somebody has dressed, on his or her behavior, somebody’s body structure, making jokes that are based on sex, asking somebody for sexual favors or for outings repeatedly.
This may also include threatening a person or even spreading rumors about a person’s sexual life and also sexual innuendos (Equal Rights Advocates, 2010). Physical sexual harassment includes; assaulting a person, trying to block somebody’s movement, touching somebody inappropriately which may include kissing, patting, stroking and even hugging. One can harass an individual non- verbally by looking at a person’s body from up downwards, using derogative gestures towards a person, or even employing facial expressions that are of sexual nature (Equal Rights Advocates, 2010).
Following a person comes under non -verbal sexual harassment. Visually, it can happen through drawings, pictures, emails, screen savers and posters that are of sexual nature. Some people may be harassed because they are females not males or the vice versa. This can also be considered as sexual harassment of non- sexual conduct. For example, if a lady carpenter works among male colleagues and she always finds her tools hidden, this can be considered a sexual harassment. The only condition that must exist for a conduct to be considered a sexual harassment is when the conduct is severe or pervasive (Equal Rights Advocates, 2010).
If one is fired, demoted or the employer refuses to promote one because of rejecting sexual advances, that is automatically becomes sexual harassment. Even if it may not lead to injury or job status changing, so long as it interferes with ones performance at work place or even creating a hostile environment; that can be considered as a sexual harassment (Equal Rights Advocates, 2010). A case referred to as Meritor Savings Bank V. Vinson is one of the best cases on sexual harassment. The Supreme Court held that if a relationship is not welcome, it is considered to be ‘involuntary.
’ A plaintiff who was a lady sued her supervisor. During her first year working in the bank, she entered a relationship with him unwillingly because she feared losing her job (TWC Home, nd). She knew that she would face it rough the moment she refuses the advances. So she continued with the relationship for two years. The man would fondle her in the sight of other workers, sometimes follow her to the rest room and even go to the extent of exposing himself to her. For her, she did not expose his conduct to the management due to insecurity.
The plaintiff proved that the relationship was unwelcome and it created a working environment which was abusive. The Supreme Court heard this and ruled in favor of her. The accused had to pay for the damages to the plaintiff (TWC Home, nd). Gender Identity Discrimination Gender identity refers to a situation of self identification either as a female or a male regardless of the anatomical sex at the time of birth. In normal circumstances, gender identity goes hand in hand with anatomical sex. A person identifies with females because she has physical features of females and a male does the same because he has male physical features.
However, this does not apply to all human beings because for some, their identity does not match with their physical feature and this applies mostly to transsexual people (Work Place Fairness, 2009). A female may have the stronger side of males and a male may have stronger characteristics of females. Society may view the situation very differently. For example a man who identifies himself as a woman can be said to be feminine and a woman who identifies herself as a male is considered masculine. ‘Transgender’ is used to refer to a person whose stereotypes of gender identity do not apply.
This term refers to cross dressers; both male and female, impersonators from both genders, individuals who are inter sexed, transsexuals, males who are feminine and females who are considered masculine (Work Place Fairness, 2009). These people usually face a lot of discrimination especially at work place. Mostly, they are usually fired the moment the management learns of their plans to undergo surgery on sexual reassignment. Some of them live in fear of being fired especially those who engage in cross dressing outside their work places.
Those who try to wear appropriate clothes that match their gender identity are usually punished or fired all together for not conforming to the company’s policy of dress code. This happens especially in those companies that do not recognize individuals who are trans-gendered. Some employers even go to an extent of prohibiting these trans-gendered people to visit the rest rooms and are sometimes harassed by co workers on that basis (Work Place Fairness, 2009). This discrimination is not prohibited by the law particularly the federal one. How ever, efforts are being made to pass a law that will make this kind of discrimination illegal.
Some have argued that, it can be covered with the law that bans all kinds of discrimination in the work place. Supreme Court has allowed these discrimination cases to be treated as harassment but is not clear how a court should handle such a case (Work place fairness, 2009). In conclusion, many people do not differentiate between the three kinds of discrimination making it hard to press charges regarding the matter. Some may have been discriminated without their knowledge and thus it is high time, companies adopt anti discrimination policies to make every one aware of his or her rights at the work place.
References Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland. (2004). Sex discrimination case studies. Retrieved from http://www. adcq. qld. gov. au/Cases/Sex. htm Equal right advocates. (2010). Know your rights: Sexual harassment at work. Retrieved from http://www. equalrights. org/publications/kyr/shwork. asp Fine US Law. (2008). Civil rights act of 1964-cra-title vii-equal employment opportunities 42 US code chapter 21. Retrieved from http://finduslaw. com/civil_rights_act_of_1964_cra_title_vii_equal_employment_opportunities_42_us_code_chapter_21 HR Hero. (nd). Title VII of the civil rights of 1964-title VII.
Retrieved from http://www. hrhero. com/topics/title7. html Thomson’s solicitors. (2010). Summary of the law on sex discrimination. Retrieved from http://www. thompsons. law. co. uk/ltext/l0840001. htm TWC Home. (nd). Case studies on sexual harassment. Retrieved from http://www. twc. state. tx. us/news/efte/case_studies_in_sexual_harassment. html US Equal Opportunity Commission. (nd). Title VII of the civil rights of 1964. Retrieved from http://www. eeoc. gov/laws/statutes/titlevii. cfm Work Place Fairness. (2009). Gender Identity discrimination. Retrieved from http://www. workplacefairness. org/genderid? agree=yes#1
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 4 October 2016
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