An employment lawyer explains gender discrimination in the workplace and how to identify it.
Discrimination is the unfair, prejudicial, and different treatment of someone based on specific characteristics. The Canadian Human Rights Act protects individuals from being discriminated against for their age, race, disability, sexual orientation, and more. However, just because discrimination is illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Discrimination laws also apply in the workplace, but unfortunately, employment lawyers handle workplace discrimination claims all the time.
What is gender discrimination?
Gender discrimination is when someone is mistreated or denied opportunities because of their sex or gender identity and expression. Employment lawyers know that gender discrimination predominantly affects women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it can affect men too. Salary, job requirements, employment eligibility, and hours are some examples where gender discrimination is most common in the workplace.
In the workplace
Individuals can experience gender discrimination whether they are applying for a job or an existing employee. For this reason, employment lawyers do not limit their services to active employees exclusively. Every Canadian has the right to equal consideration for job opportunities regardless of their gender identity.
Sex vs. gender
Sex and gender are used interchangeably as terms to define whether someone is a male or female. However, their exact definitions vary depending on the context. Someone’s ‘sex’ is more specifically related to anatomical identity (male or female organs). Whereas ‘gender’ is typically used concerning socially defined characteristics of being male or female.
Many people don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth; some choose not to identify as any gender. Regardless of the terminology used, discriminating based on sex and gender identity is illegal.
How to identify gender discrimination in the workplace
How do you know if you are experiencing gender discrimination in the workplace? Situations that employment lawyers see commonly include:
- Unequal pay
- Getting turned down for promotions or job opportunities despite exceptional qualifications and experience. Someone of the opposite gender who has equal or less experience receives the opportunity instead.
- Terminations resulting from complaints related to sexual harassment from someone of the opposite gender. The perpetrator gets to keep their job.
- Positional bias (i.e., a woman applying for a secretary job may be hired over a man applying for the same position)
- Facing discipline for not acting, behaving, or dressing in a way that isn’t traditionally feminine or masculine
- Getting penalized for something that coworkers of the opposite sex also do but never face discipline for
- If an employer refuses to address you by the gender in which you identify (or not) with
Should you hire an employment lawyer?
You should never tolerate discrimination of any kind in the workplace. You have the right to feel safe, protected, and treated equally. Suppose you feel that you are facing gender discrimination at your job or throughout a job application process. In that case, an employment lawyer can answer any questions you may have about your rights and advise you on moving forward. It is always important to inform yourself of your rights and exercise them.