Sex Discrimination / Gender Discrimination

Federal law prohibits sex / gender discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which applies to private employers, state and local government employers, labor organizations and employment agencies with 15 or more employees. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act also prohibits sex / gender discrimination for employers with more than 4 employees. When an employee is treated differently because of the employee’s sex / gender and when the different treatment negatively affects the “terms or conditions of employment,” it is illegal. “Terms or conditions of employment” include job title, being hired or fired from a job, position, pay, and advancement and training opportunities. Courts have also found that males may also be victims of gender-based discrimination.

The following are examples of gender-based discrimination of females:

Hiring or Promotion

Although you have experience and excellent qualifications, you are not hired or promoted because the company prefers to hire or promote less qualified men.


You are told that you are laid off due to company cutbacks and reorganization. However, men in the same job with less seniority keep their jobs.

Job Classification

You work at a company that has a tiered job classification system. Your responsibilities have increased over time, but your job classification and pay have remained the same while male employees have their job classifications and pay increased to reflect their increased responsibilities.

Equal Pay

You work your way up to a management role. Now another male manager has been hired. He has similar training and work experience, but you find out that he is being paid more than you.

The law recognizes that there are seldom situations where there is direct evidence of outright discrimination (i.e. we are terminating you because we only want to employ men). Thus, the law allows an employee to bring a claim through indirect evidence. In a disparate treatment sex / gender discrimination claim, an employee first must establish what the law calls a “prima facie” case of discrimination by showing that the female or male bringing the claim (the plaintiff): (1) was qualified for the job in question; (2) the employee suffered an adverse employment action -an “adverse employment action” is one that is serious and tangible enough to alter an employee’s compensation, terms or conditions of employment; and (3) similarly situated persons who are not members of the protected class were treated more favorably, or that the circumstances of the termination give rise to an inference of discrimination. Thus, if the plaintiff employee filing a sex discrimination claim is a woman, the plaintiff must show that men are treated differently, or if the employee is a man he must show that a woman was treated differently.

Once the plaintiff proves a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer defendant to show a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its decision. At this stage, the employer’s burden is relatively light and the employer just has to introduce evidence, which if true, would permit the conclusion that there was a nondiscriminatory reason for the unfavorable employment decision. For instance, many times employers state the reason for termination is related to poor work performance. Once the employer meets this burden, the employee must show that the employer’s explanation was pretext. To establish pretext, the plaintiff must present evidence by which a reasonable fact finder could either disbelieve the employer’s reason, or believe that a discriminatory reason was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the employer’s action. In order to meet this burden, the employee must show weaknesses, implausibility’s, inconsistencies or contradictions in the employer’s reason are so that a jury could rationally find the reason to unworthy of belief.

We often successfully represent employees who are discriminated against based upon Sex / Gender Discrimination may also involve Sexual Harassment.

Call us today at 267-470-4742 or contact us online to discuss your legal options.

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