Gender Discrimination

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    San Diego Gender Discrimination Lawyers

    Both federal and state laws prohibit employment discrimination based on several employee or applicant characteristics. These laws aim to ensure that employees in California and across the U.S. receive equal treatment and opportunities at work, and they provide rights and remedies for employees who experience discrimination in violation of the law.

    One protected characteristic is gender, which also encompasses many other specific characteristics. Because gender discrimination at work can take so many forms, it’s hard to know whether you experienced this unlawful conduct. You should always seek help from a San Diego gender discrimination attorney at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP.

    Our legal team protects workplace equality and ensures that our clients receive justice when an employer hinders their career for discriminatory reasons. We handle complex gender discrimination claims, and we can advise you of your rights and legal options. Reach out today for more information.

    What Is Gender Discrimination?

    Gender discrimination occurs when an employer treats employees differently than others because of their gender or related factors. “Gender” is a wide umbrella in discrimination matters, and it became even more so in recent years. The following are some factors that might play a role in gender discrimination at work.

    Discrimination Against Women in the Workplace

    Long gone are the days when most women expected to forgo working to care for the household. These days, this is a personal choice, and many women choose to have lifelong careers with very little interruption. However, this does not mean that all employers treat women employees as they should under the law or that women always enjoy the work-related success that men do.

    Many companies still have gender-biased cultures that—intentionally or not—treat women applicants and employees differently than men. For example, some companies never hire women as executives, and only just over 8 percent of Fortune 500 companies have women in the CEO chairs.

    In addition, women struggle to obtain the salaries, bonuses, and promotions that men often do. Women might also face more harassment at work, as well as denials of benefits or opportunities due to pregnancy or child-related matters.

    Some men can certainly experience gender discrimination at work as well, though this is rarer than discrimination or bias against women. Whether you are a man or a woman, our firm is ready to protect your rights against discrimination based on sex and gender at work.

    Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation

    In modern society, gender discrimination goes well beyond the man/woman divide. The law defines gender as “a person’s sex, including the person’s gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior, regardless of whether or not it is stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

    A relatively new challenge to workplace equality in the 21st Century is that the concept of gender is more fluid. People no longer feel they must behave in the manner that society expects of their gender. Additionally, people can now determine their gender for themselves, regardless of the sex they were born with.

    For this reason, protections under gender discrimination laws expanded to include:

    • Gender identity
    • Gender expression
    • Nonconformity with gender stereotypes
    • Sexual orientation

    With more and more openly LGBTQ people in the workforce, tolerance for diversity is more important than ever to preserve a workplace where worker dignity has proper protection. Regardless of gender, whether biological or chosen, everyone has the right to work in a non-hostile, equal opportunity environment.

    Laws that Protect Against Gender Discrimination

    There is a complex web of laws that address gender discrimination in employment in California and the U.S.

    Here are some laws that protect employees based on gender.

    • California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – This state-level statute protects against discrimination based on gender, as well as provides specific protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. California was one of the first states to expand protections to LGBTQ employees, as this happened in 1992.
    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This is the federal law that provides anti-discrimination protections for numerous characteristics, including gender. Gender at the federal level did not officially encompass LGBTQ protections until the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in 2020 in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. In that case, SCOTUS held that gender identity and sexual orientation were included in the meaning of “sex and gender” for employment discrimination purposes. Following this decision, LGBTQ employees now have protections against employment discrimination on a nationwide basis.
    • Equal Pay Act of 1963 – This federal statute specifically addresses pay discrepancies between genders in the workplace. The law requires equal pay for substantially similar work for both men and women. Pay discrepancy continues to be a common complaint when it comes to gender discrimination since, as of 2021, women generally only receive about 80 percent of the pay that men receive for the same job.
    • California Equal Pay Act – This state law has been around for decades, but legislators strengthened it even more in 2015. Similar to the federal Equal Pay Act, this law works to ensure that a woman does not receive less pay for performing substantially similar work as a man.

    Because both federal and state laws protect you from gender discrimination, you have the option of whether to file a claim on the federal or state level. This is something you should carefully discuss with your gender discrimination attorney.

    Federally, your attorney will file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), while at the state level, your lawyer will file the complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). There are different time limits and procedures, depending on which complaint you pursue.

    How Gender Discrimination Happens

    Gender discrimination can be a complicated issue due to the many laws that might apply. It is also complicated because there are many different ways that gender discrimination can occur at work.

    Employment Decisions

    Perhaps the most well-recognized form of gender discrimination happens when an employer bases an employment decision on someone’s gender or related characteristics.

    For example, these decisions might constitute gender discrimination:

    • Not hiring someone or giving them a lower-paying position because of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
    • Holding a female employee to higher standards or different rules than male employees
    • Refusing to consider a woman for a promotion and instead promoting a less qualified man
    • Demoting, decreasing hours, or reducing pay because of someone’s gender identity
    • Firing someone when an employer learns about their sexual orientation
    • Denying a woman training opportunities or access to resources at work

    Some instances of gender discrimination involve wrongful termination, but this is not always the case. Some discriminatory employment decisions are much more subtle, and employees might not even realize they are the victims of discrimination.

    If any employment decision that affects you feels wrong or you suspect gender discrimination played a role, never wait to seek an evaluation by a San Diego gender discrimination attorney at Haeggquist & Eck, LLP.

    Unequal Pay

    Despite having equal pay laws on the books for a long time in the United States, many employers continue to discriminate against women or LGBTQ employees when it comes to compensation. Often, employers assume that no one will discover such pay discrepancies, or they justify paying less for other reasons. However, unequal pay for gender-based reasons is still against the law and the rights of employees.

    In 2015, California lawmakers expanded the law to solidify the rights of employees to discuss their pay. If you learn that you receive less compensation than someone of another gender for the same work, you might be the victim of gender discrimination, and our firm can assess whether you have a claim.

    Unfair Policies

    Some forms of discrimination do not have roots in a single employment decision regarding one employee over another, but instead, they involve company policies that place a greater burden on one gender than the other. For example, if a company requires all women to wear skirts, pantyhose, and heels but has no specific requirements for how men dress in the workplace, it can be a discriminatory policy. Not every gender-specific dress code is discriminatory, however, and courts uphold policies requiring men and women to wear different things to work.

    When it comes to protections for gender identity and expression, the situation can get even more complicated. If an employee was born as a woman but now identifies as a man, an employer cannot require them to dress in accordance with their gender at birth.

    Discrimination rooted in workplace policies can be a challenging case to dissect, but our attorney can review a policy that you believe is troublesome and advise you whether it constitutes discrimination or not.


    One of the most common forms of gender discrimination is workplace harassment. Historically, women were most often the victims of gender-based harassment, and sexual harassment against women continues to be a major problem in California workplaces. However, gender harassment can also happen against LGBTQ employees or stem from gender nonconformity or other related factors.

    Harassment is unlawful when it creates a hostile work environment for the employee in question.

    This can happen when:

    • The harassing conduct is so persistent that a reasonable employee would not tolerate working in that environment.
    • The harassing conduct is so offensive that one instance is enough for a reasonable employee to be uncomfortable working there.

    If you experience harassing conduct due to your gender at work, report the matter to your employer immediately. The law requires your employer to take necessary action to stop the harassment moving forward. If your employer takes inadequate action and the hostile work environment continues, a lawyer can hold your employer liable for the harassment.

    Workplace sexual harassment also has to do with gender and, often, sexual orientation, and there is another type of sexual harassment in addition to a hostile work environment. This is called quid pro quo harassment, and the perpetrator must be someone with authority over your job or working conditions.

    Quid pro quo harassment unfolds in the following manner:

    1. The person with authority makes sexual advances or requests sexual conduct from you
    2. They either threaten your job if you refuse OR offer you an employment benefit if you consent

    Quid pro quo harassment is always in violation of the law and your rights—you do not have to report the matter and allow your employer to act for liability to attach.


    The law not only gives you the right to be free from gender discrimination, but it also gives you the right to complain about possible discriminatory conduct or participate in an investigation into possible discrimination. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who lodge complaints within their rights under discrimination laws.

    However, many employers do retaliate against employees who raise concerns over gender discrimination.

    Retaliation can take many forms, such as:

    • Demotions
    • Reduction of hours
    • Pay decrease
    • Undesirable transfers or shift changes
    • Poor (and unwarranted) performance evaluations
    • Harassment
    • Disciplinary action
    • Denial of a deserved raise or promotion
    • Termination

    You should never fear retaliation for exercising your rights and standing up against gender discrimination. If you experience retaliation, our law firm can assist you in bringing the proper claims to recover for your losses and seek all available legal relief.

    Speak With Our San Diego Gender Discrimination Attorneys

    Gender discrimination should be a thing of the past, but many employees in the San Diego area continue to experience discriminatory actions due to gender-related factors. Our legal team knows this is unacceptable and will stand up for your rights as a victim of employment discrimination or harassment.If you need assistance or would like to discuss a possible case, never hesitate to reach out to the legal team of Haeggquist & Eck, LLP. Contact us at (619) 468-5222 for your free case evaluation—our San Diego gender discrimination lawyers are ready to help.

    If you’re a woman in the workplace facing discrimination because of your gender, Haeggquist & Eck, LLP wants to help. Contact our San Diego gender discrimination attorneys for help by calling (619) 342-8000 today.

    Discrimination Against Women

    Sexual discrimination against women was made illegal by The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 had made salary discrimination against women illegal. Nevertheless, women currently earn only 77 cents to every dollar that men are paid in the United States today.

    Discrimination Based on Lifestyle & Gender Choice

    The right to be free from discrimination based on gender choice or failing to adhere to cultural gender-related stereotypes is protected by state and federal legislation.

    Gender is defined as “a person’s sex, including the person’s gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior, regardless of whether or not it is stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.” Discrimination against someone because that person is transgender also called gender identity discrimination, is a form of prohibited sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as a violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

    A relatively new challenge to human rights and workplace equality in the 21st Century is the fact that the concept of gender is becoming more fluid. People no longer feel compelled to behave in the manner that society expects of their gender. Additionally, people are now able to determine their gender for themselves, regardless of the sex they were born. With more openly LGBTQ people in the workforce, tolerance for diversity is more important than ever, to preserve a workplace where worker dignity is protected. Regardless of gender, whether biological or chosen, everyone has the right to work for a living in a non-hostile, equal opportunity environment.

    What Are Your Rights?

    If you have been discriminated against based on your gender, you have rights! You have the right to:

    • Work in a safe workplace environment that does not have discrimination. Your employer is legally required to provide a work environment that is not ‘hostile’ based on your gender.

    • Discuss or speak out against the gender discrimination in your workplace. You may speak to your coworkers and your supervisor. You have the right to tell your employer that you believe a policy or coworker is discriminating against others. It is illegal for your employer to punish you for speaking out including firing you, being demoted, cutting your pay, switching shifts and any negative effect on you.

    • Report the behavior to HR or your boss.

    • File a grievance. If you are part of a union and you believe you were treated unfairly at work you can contact your union representative.

    • Protest against discrimination. The National Labor Relations Act protects a group that raises concerns about their pay or working conditions.

    • File a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California. You have the right to tell your employer you plan to file a charge and they can’t retaliate against you.

    If you believe you have been discriminated against based on your gender and have been fired or retaliated against for doing any of the above, do not hesitate to contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP. Our employment lawyers are here to make sure you get the compensation you deserve!

    Experienced Gender Discrimination Attorneys in San Diego

    If your employer is making employment decisions based on stereotyping or gender roles, they are in violation of the law. Don’t suffer in silence. At Haeggquist & Eck, LLP, we are deeply committed to the human rights and dignity of all Californians and take pride in our success in helping to create equal employment opportunities for everyone.

    If you believe you have been subjected to sex or gender discrimination in the San Diego area, contact us online to arrange a free case evaluation with one of our experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate gender discrimination attorneys to fight aggressively for your right to workplace equality.

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