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Understanding Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Nov. 30, 2021

Group of workers of different occupationsAccording to the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, women, on average, receive only 79% of men’s earnings. Despite the fact that more women have earned college degrees in recent years and the fact that more women participate in the labor force than ever before, the pay gap continues to exist. This may be partly to do with the fact that women remain underrepresented in the highest paying fields, including chief executive roles and software developer roles. However, this alone doesn’t account for pay differences. When women work in the same fields as men, they sometimes face lower pay for equal work and duties. Women are also more likely to perform childrearing and caregiving duties, which means that they may not be promoted as often as men, or may end up in lower-ranking positions. While there are laws preventing gender discrimination, women continue to face many barriers in the workplace. For example, women may face sexual harassment or a hostile workplace that may require them to switch jobs that may impede their promotions and may result in lost wages. Women may also face discrimination if they become pregnant. They may face problems getting promoted and some women even get fired due to their pregnancy. While pregnancy-based firing tends to occur in minimum wage positions, women may not enjoy the same wage increases as their male counterparts and may struggle to find similarly-paying work after they give birth. Finally, women may face unconscious bias in the workplace. Even highly-respected employers, such as Google, have had to come to terms with gender bias: according to The Guardian, the Department of Labor accused Google of having an “extreme” gender pay gap.

If you believe your rights have been violated, either due to your pregnancy, due to sexual harassment in the workplace, or due to a lack of fair compensation in your company, you have important rights under the law. The Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III are gender discrimination lawyers in Akron, Ohio who work closely with victims to help them seek recovery and justice for their cases. You may be entitled to seek damages for your lost wages, lost promotions, or other compensation for your case.

How Can I Prove That I’m Being Paid Less Than Men in My Company?

Despite the fact that there are many laws on the books protecting women’s paychecks from discrimination, women continue to face disparities in how they are paid. Moreover, even if you do find out that you are not getting paid the same as your male co-workers, you may have a difficult time proving that this is the result of gender discrimination. However, these cases can, and have been, won. Individuals need a qualified discrimination lawyer like the Akron, Ohio Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III on their side. For instance, if you happen to know the salary of a male predecessor and your pay is lower, you may be entitled to seek damages for the back pay.

However, not all gender pay discrimination cases are so straightforwardly proven. Employers can prove that a pay difference is justified if another worker had greater seniority, had more “merit,” worked more hours, or if they can show that other factors, distinct from sex and gender, were involved. Some employers might try to claim that a male employer was a better negotiator, or that he had better training, things which can be difficult to dispute in court. Employees may also be discouraged or outright banned from discussing their pay through stipulations in their contracts or as a result of company culture, so it can be challenging for women to learn that they face a pay disparity.

Yet, women who are the subjects of gender discrimination in their pay have options. Document everything and report your findings to the EEOC. Additionally, you have the right to hire a discrimination attorney in Akron, Ohio, like the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III. Fighting your employer for back pay can be a challenging process. However, you are protected from retaliation and have important legal rights under the law.

Red Flags that Your Employer May Be Discriminating Against Women for PayAttorney pointing out something on a document

Not all workplaces are equally transparent about pay. It can be tough for women to know whether their workplace is engaging in discrimination. Women can empower themselves by doing research. Sites like Glassdoor offer a glimpse into different companies’ pay structures. Women can also take a look at workplace culture. Does your employer:

  • Fail to properly explain how your salary was determined? Do you have a clear sense of how much a person with 10 years, 5 years, 2 years in the company makes? Is there a clear compensation structure based on employee education, training, and seniority, or are salaries discussed behind closed doors with no rationale?

  • Discourage discussion of pay at work? If your contract requires you to be silent about your pay, you may want to ask why. If workplace culture discourages discussion of payment, this may be due to disparities in pay amongst the genders. Fight for a more open work environment, and you may find yourself fighting for equal pay for equal work.

  • Uphold certain gender stereotypes? If your company has a history of sexual harassment, gender discrimination claims, and if the culture appears hostile to women, you may want to take a closer look at how you are being compensated. Go on Glassdoor and compare your salary to the average salary in your area and for your job.

  • Call you “greedy” or degrades your work when you try to negotiate your salary? Women face discrimination at the bargaining table. Often, it is not women who are poor negotiators, but the stereotypes that hurt. Research indicates that women who try to fight for higher salaries are more likely to be perceived as “pushy,” “greedy” and poor workers, than men who do the same.

If you find yourself seeing these red flags, this may or may not be indicative of a problem. If you have concerns, you may have the right to seek compensation or damages under the law. A discrimination lawyer in Akron, Ohio like the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III can fight to protect your rights and help you seek the justice you may deserve.