Gender discrimination laws in California are infinitely more complex than most other states.
California now requires employers to take transgender identity and expression into consideration. The new regulations, which were approved by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in May of 2017, went into effect in July, 2017.
The new regulations expand on the Fair Employment and Housing Act and outline new policies California employers must implement. Some of those policies have to do with:
- Restroom Facilities;
- Dress Standards;
- Preferred Name and Identity; and
Whether you are a California employer or employee, it is important that you understand California’s new and changing gender discrimination laws. If you do not, you may find it difficult to uphold your rights in the face of discrimination.
Terms to Know
In order to understand California’s new laws, you need to understand the terms used in legislation. These terms and definitions can be found under § 11030. Definitions. and include:
- Gender Expression: Gender expression refers to a person’s gender-related behavior or appearance. It is not associated with the person’s sex assigned at birth;
- Gender Identity: Gender identity refers to the way in which a person identifies, regardless of his or her outward appearance or assigned sex at birth;
- Transgender: Transgender refers to a person whose gender differs from that which was assigned at birth. A transgender may or may not identify as “transsexual,” and he or she may or may not have a gender expression that is different from the social expectations of the sex assigned at birth;
- Sex Stereotype: Sex stereotype generally refers to (but not always) an assumption about a person’s appearance or behavior, gender expression, gender roles, gender identity, or his or her ability or inability to perform certain work based on social expectation, generalizations, or myth about the individual’s sex.
- Transitioning: Transitioning refers to the process that a person goes through to begin living as the gender with which they identify. This process may include but is not limited to changes in name, pronoun usage, facility usage, surgeries, hormone therapy, and other medical procedures.
Having a firm grasp of definitions can help you mitigate workplace faux pas and ensure that everyone feels comfortable, welcome, and safe in his or her work environment.
Laws Governing Gender Discrimination in California
Many individuals may feel discriminated against, but that does not necessarily mean that they actually were. There are state and federal laws in place that protect both employees from discrimination and employers from wrongful discrimination suits. Two laws to know are:
- California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act;
- Equal Pay Act of 1963; and
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act is a state law that applies to labor organizations, both public and private employers, and employment agencies. The law, which can be found in California Government Code § 12940, protects employees, contractors, unpaid interns, volunteers, and job applicants from discrimination. This law is more powerful than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and heavily favors California employees.
Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is an expansion of Title VII. However, unlike Title VII, which protects against most forms of discrimination, the Equal Pay Act strictly protects against wage discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This law protects against the discrimination of an employee based on color, race, religion, sex, or national origin and in regard to his or her compensation and terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The federal law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. State law applies to employers with as few as five.
However, whereas state law applies to just the state, federal law applies to federal, state, and local organizations and agencies. Under this law, it is prohibited for employers to discriminate in the following areas:
- Fringe benefits;
- Training and apprenticeship programs;
- Transfers, promotions, layoffs, or recalls;
- Hiring, firing, and recruiting;
- Job advertising;
- Pay, retirement plan offerings, and disability leave; and
- Any other terms and conditions that differ between genders.
Unless it is blatant, such as a memo that goes out to the entire company that states that maternity leave benefits will not be available for women, or that paternity leave is a frivolous expenditure, gender discrimination in the workplace is difficult to prove. The Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyers at Workplace Rights Law Group know what gender discrimination looks like and can help you both identify it and build an affirmative defense against it.
What is Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?
Though gender discrimination is difficult to identify, there are some prime examples off of which you can use to base the validity of your case. Below are some examples of discrimination with which people of minority genders routinely have to deal:
- Hiring, firing, or promoting someone strictly because of his or her gender;
- NOT hiring, firing, or promoting someone strictly because of his or her gender;
- Pay discrimination despite similarities in job titles, duties, and qualifications;
- Pay cut because of an inability to put in as much overtime as one’s male counterparts;
- Inability to add a husband to one’s health care plan because there is an assumption that the husband already earns his own benefits; and
- Withholding job opportunities because of one’s gender expression or gender identity.
Of course, gender discrimination can happen against anybody, male, female, or transgender, and is not exclusive to compensation and benefits.
What to Do If You Suspect Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
If you suspect gender discrimination in the workplace, do not just let it slide. Gender discrimination can be detrimental to a whole group of people’s abilities to advance in the workforce and to the very notion of gender equality. Contact the Los Angeles workplace rights lawyers at Workplace Rights Law Group to discuss your situation, your legal rights, and your options. Each case evaluation is free and confidential, so you do not have to worry about further repercussions from your employer for seeking to uphold your rights. Call today to get started.