Gender discrimination remains all too common in the workplace

Your ability to do your job has nothing to do with your gender. Men and women can perform the same jobs, receive the same schooling and achieve the same success in any career. However, some industries remain primarily male-dominated, and some employers continue to discriminate against employees and potential employees on the basis of their sex. That kind of discrimination is illegal, but the law can’t prevent people from acting on their biases.

Sex-based discrimination is the practice of treating someone differently in a job because of one’s gender. Some employers may actively discriminate against applicants or employees of a particular gender, while others may simply create a hostile work environment by fostering the wrong kind of culture. If you believe your workplace engages in sex-based discrimination, you should take steps to further educate yourself about your rights.

Your gender shouldn’t impact your work opportunities

There are federal laws in place intended to protect people from discrimination based on factors they cannot control, such as their age, race and sex. An employer should never discriminate based on these or other protected factors in the practices of hiring, firing, promoting, assessing pay or assigning work.

Part of creating a discrimination-free workplace is readily addressing issues with harassment and training all staff to treat one another (as well as clients and customers) with respect and dignity. Harassment remains a very common form of sex-based discrimination. If an employer will not take steps to address reports of discrimination, employees may need to take action to stand up for their rights.

Know the two main forms of sexual harassment

Workplace harassment usually comes in one of two forms, but sometimes it is a combination of both. The first is the creation of a hostile work environment. Making advances, laughing at sexual jokes, sharing inappropriate images or denigrating someone for one’s gender could all be forms of harassment. So could refusing to accommodate sex-related medical needs, like pregnancy lifting restrictions.

In some cases, a supervisor, manager or boss may engage in the second form of harassment, known as quid pro quo harassment. Essentially, someone in a position of power could use that authority to solicit sexual favors or flirtation from a subordinate in exchange for opportunities at work.

Document everything and follow company protocol

If you feel like harassment has become part of your job, you should look into your company’s policies. There should be someone you can report the issue to, such as a manager or human resources. So long as the person you should contact isn’t involved in the harassment, you should do your best to follow company policy and report mistreatment and harassment.

Be sure to document each incident to the best of your ability. You should also document your attempts to address and report the harassment or discrimination you experience. Doing so will help if you have to seek assistance from outside sources because your employer does not address the problem.

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