Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace
If you have been subjected to sexual discrimination in the workplace, or if you are facing accusations of workplace sexual discrimination or harassment, speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Leontire & Associates, P.C. understand the long-term damage sexual discrimination can cause, and will fight to obtain the just compensation you deserve, or, if you have been falsely accused of such conduct, we will fight to clear your name. Contact our Boston office today.
Sexual equality is still an issue in many workplaces, though more members of each sex are aware of the value both can contribute to the working environment. Unfortunately, until sexual bias is eliminated, instances of sexual discrimination will occur, and, in those situations, obtaining the assistance of an experienced sexual discrimination civil rights attorney is crucial to obtaining just compensation. Recently, a jury awarded a female Winthrop Police Office more than $2 million as a result of sexual discrimination she suffered at her place of employment. A discussion of various types of workplace-based sexual discrimination, as well as the damages a victim can claim, will follow below.
Types of Sexual Discrimination
Generally speaking, sexual discrimination constitutes treating a person differently solely because of that person’s sex. In the workplace, sexual discrimination typically occurs between employees, but may also occur between an employee and an applicant. Regardless, sexual discrimination is violative of both the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Generally, sexual discrimination manifests itself in two primary ways – sexual stereotyping and unconscious bias.
Sexual stereotyping involves categorizing particular individuals on the basis of broad generalizations, although it is not necessarily accompanied by deliberate reflection or conscious thought. Typically, sexual stereotyping occurs when an employee assumes that one sex cannot do a particular job merely because of that individual’s sex. Examples of sexual stereotyping include assuming a particular female meatpacker cannot lift as much weight as a male meatpacker, or that a particular male would not even want to be a secretary. Such stereotypes typically show up when an employee uses subjective criteria to evaluate another employee’s performance or ascertain which employee to hire. As a result, any employment decisions, whether it be hiring, promoting, or the like, made as a result of this thinking violates the aforementioned laws.
Although similar, unconscious bias, due to its nature, is actually harder to ascertain, and partly why engaging the services of an experienced civil rights attorney is so important. Essentially, unconscious bias manifests itself as a blanket generalization on a whole sex, such as the idea that females cannot be forceful enough to run a corporation, or that males are too intimidating to deal with children. These assumed ideals – so-called female timidity and so-called toxic masculinity – usually are taken as a given by members of the opposite sex, and, thus, indicate the unconsciousness of the bias. Nevertheless, decisions made on these bases violate the law.
Recovering Damages for Sexual Discrimination
Under both Title VII and Massachusetts Law, victims of sexual discrimination are entitled to compensatory damages for both economic loss and emotional distress, as well as attorneys’ fees, costs, and, possibly, punitive damages. An experienced civil rights attorney can help decide the most appropriate amount to demand. Economic loss may be ascertained by looking at lost wages as a result of a promotion not received, a bonus not given, or a job not awarded, among other factors. While a bit more difficult to pinpoint, emotional distress can include costs due to suffering for humiliation, ostracization, and a general denigration of the employee. Finally, punitive damages are warranted where the conduct is so offensive that it justifies punishment and not merely compensation. Thus, these damages are awarded not only to deter such behavior, but as a means of public condemnation and punishment.