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Sex Discrimination at Work

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on May 23, 2018 in Employee Rights

man inappropriately touching female coworkerSex or gender discrimination in the workplace occurs when a person is treated differently at work because of his or her gender. This discriminatory behavior can occur when an individual is applying for a position or during the course of his or her employment.

If you believe you have been a victim of sex discrimination, the experienced Phoenix employment law attorneys at the Phillips Law Group can help you determine if you may have a claim. We strongly advocate equal rights for all employees and believe that a workplace should be a safe and prosperous environment. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

What is Sex Discrimination in the Workplace?

Sex or gender discrimination can be based on a variety of different situations. However, any claim to support this type of discrimination must show that you were treated differently because of your sex or gender and that this treatment negatively affected your terms or conditions of employment, which include your:

  • Employment status
  • Job position or duties
  • Work schedule
  • Shift times
  • Job location
  • Pay rate or salary
  • Advancement or promotion to another position
  • Training opportunities

Examples of Sex Discrimination in the Workplace

Sex discrimination can include:

  • Unwelcomed sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexual harassment
  • Making offensive remarks about a person’s sex or gender
  • Treating an applicant or employee differently because of sex stereotypes or because he or does not conform to traditional notions of femininity or masculinity

These types of actions can occur during any stage of employment or the application and hiring process, including:

The Hiring Process

Sex discrimination can be present during the hiring process if the decision to not hire you is based on whether you are a woman or a man.

This can include if you apply for a job where you have the proper qualifications and meet all of the criteria but the company does not hire you because its clients are accustomed to working only with men.

Conditions of Employment

In some situations, requirements for a job may indicate that the employer is only interested in hiring a certain gender. The job listing may exclude other genders from applying for the position by listing something only males can accomplish, such as lifting a certain amount of weight.

Firing an Employee

An employer’s decision to fire or lay off employees can indicate sex discrimination if the only employees to lose their jobs were of one sex. For example, an employer may fire several female employees and explain that budget cuts forced the position to be terminated. However, men in the same position with less qualifications or seniority were able to keep their jobs.


Sex discrimination may be present in an employer’s decision to promote or move an employee to another position if the decision is based on no other reason than the employee’s sex.

For example, a female employee who has held a position for a long time and consistently receives positive performance reviews decides to apply for a higher position within the company.

However, a male employee with less seniority and qualifications is promoted to the position instead. Additionally, most high-paying positions within the company are held by men while women are typically employed in low-paying jobs.

Pay Rate or Salary

An employee’s hourly wages or salary may indicate sex discrimination if another employee in the same position is earning more because of no reason other than his or her sex.


If an employer provides you with less benefits than employees of another sex, it may indicate that you have been discriminated against.

For example, a female employee is not offered the same health insurance coverage as her male co-workers. Because of this, the female employee is forced to pay a higher rate for health insurance.

Harassment in the Workplace

It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her sex, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

For example, it is illegal for a male coworker to make offensive remarks about female co-worker because of her sex.

Gender Identity

It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or fire an employee because he or she has made a gender transition, according to the EEOC.

For example, a company hires an applicant who identifies as a male to start the position in a couple of months. During this time, the applicant undergoes a female gender reassignment surgery. When the applicant arrives at the company to begin her new job, the employer informs her that the job is no longer available. However, she discovers that someone else was given the position that she was supposed to start.

Laws Prohibiting Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination is prohibited by several state and federal laws, including:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the central federal law that prohibits sex discrimination within companies with 15 or more employees. Title VII also applies to private employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, educational institutions, and state and local government agencies.

Arizona Civil Rights Act

The Arizona Civil Rights Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees for each working day of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or previous year.

However, in cases involving sexual harassment, the Arizona Civil Rights Act can be used against employers with just one employee. Although the law does not apply to the U.S. government or a bona fide private membership club, it does apply to employment agencies and labor organizations.

Equal Pay Act

Another federal law associated with sex discrimination is the Equal Pay Act. This law makes it illegal to pay an employee less wages because of his or her sex when the employee exhibits the same skills, qualifications and responsibility under the same conditions as other employees.

The Equal Pay Act applies to all forms of compensation, including:

  • Salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses
  • Benefits
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses
  • Stock options
  • Profit sharing
  • Vacation pay
  • Holiday pay
  • Other work-related allowances

What You Can Do if You Have Been Discriminated Against

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your sex, there are several steps you can take to protect your legal rights, including:

Document Your Claim

It is important that you document every act of discrimination related to your claim. Prepare a chronological history of the discriminatory behavior you have endured, including:

  • A detailed account of the discriminatory behavior and how it affected your ability to perform your job
  • The name, position and job duties of the person committing the act
  • The date, time and location the discrimination occurred
  • The names of anyone who saw or overheard the incident

Request to Review Your Personnel File

Ask to review your personnel file and note anything of importance you find. This can include disciplinary reports made by your supervisor or manager or negative performance reviews based on your sex. Also, request a copy and review your employer’s policies regarding sex discrimination.

Report the Incident

Report the discrimination to your employer in writing. Provide specific details of the discriminatory act and why you believe your employer’s policies prohibiting sex discrimination have been violated.

File a Discrimination Claim

If you have suffered from sex discrimination, you can file a claim with the Civil Rights Division of the Arizona State Attorney General’s Office within 180 days of when the incident occurred.

You can also file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, which will then coordinate your claim with the State Attorney General’s Office. If you file a claim with the EEOC, you should include:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The name of your employer and its contact information
  • The number of employees employed in your company
  • A description of the events leading up to the discriminatory act
  • The location and time the acts occurred
  • Why you believe that the acts constitute sex or gender discrimination

If the state or federal agency decides not to pursue the matter, it will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue Letter and you can then pursue the claim with the help of a skilled employment law attorney.

Contact an Employment Law Attorney in Phoenix

If you believe that you were discriminated against because of your sex or gender, dot hesitate to contact an experienced employment law attorney.

At the Phillips Law Group, our attorneys are well informed on state and federal laws regarding discrimination, and we will review your claim during a consultation to find out if you have a valid case.

If you have suffered from workplace discrimination, call Phillips Law Group at 1-800-706-3000. Free consultation by phone. No fees to start your case and no fees unless we win your case. 

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