Federal, state, and local law makes discrimination on the basis of illegal under federal, state, and local laws. Employers are forbidden from making decisions to hire, fire, promote, or to provide training or other benefits because of a person’s sex. Sex discrimination can take many different forms. The laws prohibiting sex discrimination also protect against sexual harassment by an employee’s co-workers, supervisors, clients, or customers. It also prohibits an employer from making decisions based on an employee’s pregnancy, requests for breastfeeding accommodations, family caregiving responsibilities, or when an employer acts on outdated stereotypes concerning the relative abilities of women or men in the workplace. The use of sexist slurs, sexually-charged comments, or other offensive behavior because of an employee’s sex is illegal.
The lawyers at Correia & Puth, PLLC have extensive experience challenging and winning against employers that discriminate on the basis of sex, and bringing justice for targets of sex discrimination or related retaliation. Linda Correia and Jonathan Puth are recognized leaders in the representation of women subjected to sex discrimination. Correia and Puth were both named 2000 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice for their work as co-counsel to the plaintiff class in the Hartman class action sex discrimination case, in which 1,100 women each received over a half million dollars each as part of a settlement worth over $565 million – the largest employment discrimination award in the history of the Civil Rights Act.
“At Correia & Puth we work to ensure that the long-standing protections against sex discrimination in the workplace are used to eliminate gender discrimination, unfair pay, sexual harassment, and unlawful glass ceilings, and to hold employers’ accountable and obtain justice for our clients.”
The lawyers at Correia & Puth help employees enforce their rights and litigate violations of laws prohibiting sex discrimination. If you are confronting sex discrimination in your workplace, we will work with you to identify your rights, and craft a strategy to stop illegal conduct and remedy discrimination to the greatest extent possible. We assist our clients in lodging effective complains against employers, and with filing complaints with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and state or local anti-discrimination agencies. We zealously represent our clients in resolving claims by negotiations with employers and, where appropriate, through lawsuits to achieve our clients’ goals at trial.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination in employment, including sexual harassment and discrimination in pay and benefits. Title VII applies to public and private employers with more than 15 employees. For smaller employers, local laws such as the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and the Montgomery and Prince Georges County Human Rights Acts can be just as powerful weapons to combat and challenge illegal sex discrimination in the workplace.
Other federal laws prohibit sex discrimination, for example, the Equal Pay Act prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of gender, requiring employers to pay similarly situated employees the same wage regardless of whether the employee is a male or female. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against pregnant workers. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination and retaliation in education, including on the basis of stereotypes, harassment, and in resources like athletic opportunities. State and local laws such as the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, and the Montgomery County and Prince Georges County Human Rights Acts, also provide broad legal protections against sex discrimination.
While the law protects both men and women, the lawyers at Correia & Puth know from experience that women in particular continue to endure sex discrimination in the workplace on a regular basis, whether through the exhibition of sexist and negative attitudes toward women, unfair and illegal treatment of competent female employees, or the imposition of “glass ceilings” that prevent women from progressing in management and leadership positions. Sexual harassment, for example, ranges from derogatory comments based on sex, to sexually charged behavior, threats of sexual assault, and sexual contact. Sex discrimination can also be subtle. Some women may experience fewer promotion opportunities or limits on promotions, be offered fewer mentorship or leadership opportunities, be subjected to sexual jokes and sexual-charged conversation that is passed off as casual, or be subject to lower pay and benefits. Sex discrimination can be reflected in an employer’s misogynistic approach to the relative worth of female employees when compared to males, or stereotypical views of women in the workplace and “appropriate” gender roles. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that discrimination based on sex stereotyping and the failure to conform to traditional gender stereotypes in appearance and conduct, for example dressing or acting too masculine or feminine, is prohibited under Title VII. The prohibition against sex discrimination and harassment is not limited to harassment by members of the opposite sex, but includes same-sex harassment as well.
Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and some courts have found that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is discrimination on the basis of sex, and actionable under existing civil rights protections.
Employees also have a right a workplace free of discrimination based on their family responsibilities. The protections apply to both men and women. Women have traditionally been the primary family caregivers, and employers may view women with caregiving responsibilities as less dedicated or competent workers. Employees may be able to allege sex discrimination when they have been treated worse based on stereotypes of female caregivers or treated worse than male employees whose behavior is similar to theirs. When employees are discriminated against because of their family responsibilities, it can violate many laws, such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
If you feel you are experiencing or have experienced sex discrimination or related retaliation in your workplace or school, contact Correia & Puth, PLLC to help you seek justice. We work zealously to represent clients to seek a fair and just resolution for illegal employer conduct. Please call us confidentially at 202-602-6500 or contact us online today.