The Women’s Rights Movement began long ago in 1848, but women’s rights are still yet to be fully realized in the United States. Women continue to deal with discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Many have fewer opportunities simply because of their gender, and a good portion of the female workforce still earns lower wages than their male counterparts.
In most circumstances, woman have a right to be free from gender discrimination. Not only is it unethical, but it is often also illegal. Both federal and state laws protect women from workplace discrimination.
What protections do women have in the workplace?
Ohio discrimination laws provide various protections to prevent workplace discrimination. ORC 4112.02 (A) states that it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate “because of the race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of any person.”
If employers do any of the following because of one of the aforementioned characteristics (such as gender), it is likely discrimination under state law:
- Discharge without just cause
- Refuse to hire
- Deny privileges
- Ignore tenure
- Provide substandard employment terms or conditions
- Provide unequal pay
- Deny employment opportunities
- Refuse to promote
- Offer unequal fringe benefits
Pregnant women also receive protection under both state and federal laws. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The act provides: “Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner in all terms and conditions of employment as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.”
What are common discriminatory practices women face in the workplace?
Anti-discrimination laws protecting women and pregnant women do not deter all employers from engaging in discriminatory practices. It is not uncommon for pregnant or nursing women to be fired while taking time off for childbearing, nor is it uncommon for women to receive less pay, fewer benefits, fewer opportunities, or to be passed up for jobs or promotions for which they are well qualified. Some women also experience sexual harassment and discrimination.
Even though Ohio is relatively progressive, it happens here, too, and gender discrimination cases are often litigated in courts in Ohio.
For example, in McFee v. Nursing Care Mgmt. of Am., the Ohio Supreme Court found that a business can fire a woman for taking time off of work for childbearing and that Ohio’s anti-discrimination laws only require businesses to give pregnant women the same — not preferential — treatment as other employees.
In 2013, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action lawsuit against the Cleveland-based manufacturing company Presrite Corporation for its widespread discrimination against women. The complaint alleged that the company consistently passed over female applicants in favor of less-qualified males, and women the company hired were harassed.
“[A] former Presrite employee…testified that her male-coworkers told her women should not be working there; called her a ‘dumb b—-h’; drew degrading pictures of her; and suggested that she open the top of her work uniform to pose for a photograph,” according to an EEOC press release.
What should I do if I feel my employer has discriminated against me because I am a woman?
- Notify your supervisor that you feel discriminated against.
- Keep a log of events. Note the time, location, and persons involved. Write a detailed description of the event.
- Do not destroy any notes or objects used to harass you. Keep them in a safe place.
- Make copies of employee handbooks or company policy/procedure manuals.
- Contact an employment attorney.
Contact our firm in Ohio for a one-on-one consultation with a gender or pregnancy discrimination lawyer. Whether through mediation or trial, our discrimination attorneys can help resolve workplace discrimination disputes.