Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP

When an employer discriminates against a job seeker or an employee because of that person’s gender, it’s a violation of both federal and state laws. If you are the target of that discrimination, arrange at once to discuss your rights with a San Francisco gender discrimination attorney.

What constitutes workplace gender discrimination? Which laws protect you against gender discrimination? How do you file a discrimination claim? Keep reading this brief discussion of gender discrimination and your rights, and you will learn the answers to these questions.

However, if you have personally faced gender discrimination in the workplace – or if this happens to you in the future – you must have the legal services and personalized advice that a San Francisco employment rights attorney will provide.

Which Laws Protect You Against Gender Discrimination?

Under federal law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers who have fifteen or more employees to discriminate on the basis of an employee’s or job seeker’s gender, race, religion, or national origin. If your employer has five or more employees, you are protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959.

Under FEHA, it is illegal for a California employer to discriminate against someone because of that person’s sex, gender, gender expression, or gender identity. It’s also illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee for any reason related to pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Gender discrimination by an employer includes but is not necessarily limited to:

  1. declining to hire someone because of that job seeker’s gender
  2. terminating an employee because of that employee’s gender
  3. refusing to choose someone for a promotion or training program
  4. discriminating against someone in terms of compensation or employment conditions

California also prohibits employment discrimination against transgendered persons. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act of 2012 specifically defines “gender expression” and “gender identity” as legally protected categories.

How Can You Know if You’re a Gender Discrimination Victim?

California employers know that gender discrimination is illegal, so employers who discriminate are usually careful to leave no written evidence – memos or emails, for example – of gender discrimination. Nevertheless, the signs of gender discrimination in the workplace include:

  1. excluding one gender from important meetings
  2. giving promotions only to one gender
  3. making different genders take on different job duties
  4. retaliating against employees who report gender discrimination
  5. forcing employees who are pregnant to resign
  6. permitting sexual harassment
  7. not taking seriously reports of gender discrimination

How Can You Stop Workplace Gender Discrimination?

To stop gender discrimination in a California workplace, before you can file a lawsuit against an employer, you must submit a discrimination claim to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

The EEOC enforces only federal laws, so it only investigates gender discrimination claims made against employers with fifteen or more employees. If your employer has only five to fourteen employees, you should submit your claim to the DFEH.

You can’t be fired – or targeted for any employer retaliation – if you file a gender discrimination claim. If an employer fires an employee for filing a gender discrimination claim, the employee may file a wrongful termination complaint with the DFEH or a lawsuit against the employer.

However, before you file any gender discrimination claim, you should have the advice and insights of a San Francisco gender discrimination attorney. Your attorney will help you file your discrimination claim and explain your other legal options for stopping gender discrimination.

What Happens When You File a Gender Discrimination Claim?

Under state law, a gender discrimination claim must be submitted to the DFEH within a year of the discrimination incident. Under federal law, a claim must be submitted to the EEOC within 300 days of a discrimination incident.

If you submit a claim to the EEOC, that agency may:

  1. request a response in writing from your employer to your claim
  2. dismiss your claim (if the agency has no jurisdiction or if you miss the 300-day deadline)
  3. recommend mediation to resolve your claim
  4. determine that no discrimination happened, and give you a “Notice of Right to Sue”

If the EEOC determines that gender discrimination occurred at your workplace, that agency will seek a negotiated settlement with the employer. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case goes to EEOC or Justice Department lawyers, who may or may not sue the employer on your behalf

Will Your Gender Discrimination Case Be Heard by a Court?

If your gender discrimination claim is not resolved by the DFEH, or if you receive a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the EEOC, you then have the right to take legal action against the employer with help from a San Francisco employment rights attorney.

The law requires you to “exhaust” the “administrative” options before a gender discrimination case will be heard by a federal or state court, but you should have an employment rights lawyer’s independent legal guidance from the very beginning of your efforts to stop the discrimination.

What Can You Expect if Your Gender Discrimination Claim Goes to Court?

The State of California imposes no “cap” or limit on the damages that employers may be liable for in gender discrimination cases heard in state courts, but some caps are imposed in federal gender discrimination cases.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, the maximum amount of emotional distress and punitive damages that an employee may recover with a gender discrimination claim is $300,000.

California laws usually offer more legal protection against gender discrimination than federal laws. While it is usually better to bring a gender discrimination lawsuit in a California court, your lawyer will review your claim and explain all of your legal options.

What Else Should You Know About Workplace Gender Discrimination?

If you are trying to stop workplace gender discrimination, you also need to be aware of two important deadlines:

  1. After you receive an EEOC Notice of Right to Sue, you have ninety days to file a gender discrimination claim in a federal court.
  2. If you submitted your claim to the DFEH and it was dismissed, there’s a one-year deadline for bringing a gender discrimination lawsuit under California state law.

If the EEOC or DFEH will not help you stop workplace gender discrimination, speak at once to a California employment rights lawyer.

And as mentioned previously, having an independent lawyer’s advice and guidance from the beginning is the best way to protect your interests and rights, and it’s the best way to bring an end to workplace gender discrimination.

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP