Historical and cultural circumstances create situations where certain industries and certain supervisors encourage or discourage appropriate working conditions based on sex. These circumstances often occur in industries like teaching, construction, or medical. This differential treatment manifests itself in the way employees are spoken to, paid, promoted, reviewed, or assigned work; however, it is illegal to treat employees differently based on sex, or perceived sex. Sex based discrimination claims are still the most significant and frequent type of discrimination claim enforced by the EEOC. Employers should never ignore allegations of sex-based discrimination because the factors contributing to dissimilar treatment based on sex can be incredibly subtle but are required, by law, to be investigated.
Sex discrimination in the workplace is the treatment of one or some employees differently because of their sex. Sex discrimination is often subtle or veiled and may be disguised by the minute nature of some discriminatory acts that accumulate over time. The analysis of sex discrimination seems straightforward – everyone should be treated similarly regardless of sex – but the exploration of factors contributing to sex discrimination is incredibly complicated. For example, assigning a pregnant person less work during her pregnancy is probably discriminatory because only women become pregnant. Employers may believe they are engaging in benevolent behavior when they lighten someone’s workload, require someone to attend additional training, or refer to someone by a term of endearment; however, those behaviors are often legitimate indicators of an underlying perception of inferiority based on sex that manifest into discriminatory behavior.
The Lynch Service Company has experience reviewing the subtle, and not so subtle ways, that sex discrimination manifests in the workplace. If your employees are concerned they are treated differently based on sex, contact the Lynch Service Company to determine if your duty to investigate has been triggered.