Gender Discrimination In The Workplace: When To Contact A Lawyer?

Gender Discrimination In The Workplace When To Contact A Lawyer

Discrimination in the workplace is the unfair, biased, and different treatment of an employee based on specific characteristics. The New York City Human Rights Law protects individuals from being discriminated against by their age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and more. Gender discrimination, in particular, can be defined as being treated poorly because of your gender, gender orientation, sexual preference, or pregnancy.

As stated, the law prohibits discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, pay, job assignments, firing, promotions, training, and more. However, just because workplace discrimination is illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. This article will discuss workplace discrimination, some common examples of gender discrimination, and when is the right time to contact an employment lawyer to help you with your case.

What is Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

Workplace gender discrimination is when an employee is mistreated or denied opportunities because of their sex or gender identity and expression. Although gender discrimination predominantly affects women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, it can also affect men. Employment eligibility, salary, job requirements, and pregnancy are some examples where gender discrimination is most common in the workplace. 

What Are The Common Examples of Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

Although a significant number of men do report workplace gender discrimination, it is still a much bigger issue for women. Here are some of the most common examples of gender discrimination in the workplace that women face today:

1. Harassment

It is an unfortunate fact that in male-dominated industries, women are much more likely to be victims of some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. In 2021, only 16,3% of sexual harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came from men.

The alarming fact that more than 80% of sexual harassment cases were reported by women is a huge cause for concern, and one of the reasons why working in male-dominated industries can be so challenging for women. Even when gender-based discrimination is not sexual in nature, it is still very present in the workplace. Harassment based on gender most often targets women, transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people. Such harassment usually involves the frequent use of derogatory terms aimed at female employees and other gender minorities in the workplace.

2. The Pay Gap

Many companies are not transparent when it comes to the amount of money they pay their employees or what their salary decisions are based on. However, under federal law, it is illegal for the employer of 15 or more employees to discriminate against an employee based on their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.

This means that an employer is not legally allowed to refuse to hire, harass, skip over for promotions, or terminate their employees based on any of the categories mentioned above. Still, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 25% of working women have reported earning less than their male colleagues. 

3. Pregnancy Discrimination

Employers might hesitate to hire women because of their potential plan of starting families and effectively leaving the work for a certain period of time. Because of this, women often get passed over for promotions and senior positions. 

Aside from this, working mothers still make less money than their male colleagues, regardless of their excellent credentials and experience. Women are also often penalized for taking time off to give birth, bond and take care of their child, or receive prenatal care.

4. Representation in Corporate Leadership Roles

In recent years, some progress has been made regarding the issue of female representation in senior management. According to a study done by Catalyst, there has been an increase of 29% in the proportion of female employees in senior management roles globally in 2019.

In 2020, 87% of mid-market companies had at least one woman in senior management roles. As of 2021, the proportion of women in senior management roles worldwide grew to 31%, which is the highest number recorded to date. Additionally, 90% of companies worldwide now have at least one woman in a senior management role. Nevertheless, positive progress has been slow, with the number of female employees in senior management roles increasing merely 10% since Catalyst started reporting on the issue in 2004.

When To Contact a Lawyer?

Every person has the right to succeed in their workplace based on their hard work, qualifications, and talents and not be confined to offensive and imaginary gender roles. Gender discrimination can come in various forms, ranging from deliberate to unintended. Although we mentioned some examples, here are a couple more that both employers and employees should recognize:

  • Getting turned down for job opportunities or promotions despite good qualifications and experience. A person of the opposite gender who has equal or less experience gets the promotion instead;
  • A person is excluded from important assignments;
  • A female employee is taken less seriously in their position, which is a traditionally male-dominated, such as in science, construction, or finance;
  • A person is terminated due to their complaints related to sexual harassment from someone of the opposite or same gender. The perpetrator is allowed to keep their job;
  • Position bias;
  • Being disciplined for not acting, dressing, or behaving in a way that isn’t traditionally masculine or feminine;
  • Being penalized for something that colleagues of the opposite gender also do but never get penalized for;
  • Allowing the creation of a hostile work environment;
  • Refusing to address an employee by the gender they identify with, and more.

When an employee experience such injustices in the workplace or notice that their colleague is being discriminated against because of their gender, it is important they immediately take action by identifying and reporting such cases of discrimination.

An employee can notify their employer or HR division, provided that these are not the same people discriminating against the employee because of their gender. If this is the case, an employee should consider filing an internal complaint.

An employee can also file charges with a government agency. In the state of New York, there are a number of agencies that can help enforce federal anti-discrimination laws, such as the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR), the New York State Department of Labor, and the States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the agency most employees turn to when they want to file a complaint internally, often because the discrimination comes from the people they would need to report it to.

Finally, an employee can talk with a professional employment lawyer who can take their gender discrimination case to court. As stated, federal, NY state and city laws protect employees against gender and sex discrimination, and an employee who has been discriminated against may be entitled to compensation. A professional discrimination lawyer can help work out the most favorable resolution for their case and may not even charge for the initial consultations. 


You should never tolerate any form of discrimination in the workplace. Every person has the right to feel safe, protected, and treated equally at work. Also, employers are required by law to create a workplace free from any type of discrimination. If you think that you are facing workplace gender discrimination or throughout the job application process, there are legal steps you can take to address the issue. 

To find out whether you have a workplace gender discrimination case worth pursuing, feel free to contact Cilenti & Cooper today. We treat every case with the attention and care it deserves and can fight for your civil rights from beginning to end. We offer a free consultation to all of our prospective clients, so you have nothing to lose.



Let us fight to recover the wages you have earned.

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