Facing discrimination in any capacity is an experience that no one should have to suffer, but sadly, it is not as simple as a want to avoid it. Whether it is being denied a promotion in favor of someone less qualified than you, being underpaid given the level of skill you display, being sexually harassed for your Discrimination often happens as a result of a power differential, perceived or actual, so avoiding it may be easier said than done.
One of the big problems, however, is whether discrimination even occurred. So, if you think you may have been the victim of gender discrimination, we are going to run down some of the things to look out for.
What to look out for if you think you have suffered gender discrimination
One of the most difficult hurdles in demonstrating gender discrimination is that intent is required. For example, even if you were passed over for a promotion as a woman in favor of an underqualified man, you cannot necessarily claim that this was gender discrimination. Even if you can prove that your qualifications were superior, that doesn’t mean that the person who made the decision were aware of the differences in qualifications.
The law often makes an assumption of good faith, so you need to provide further evidence to suggest that their behavior was not simply an error in judgment. The first thing to do in this situation is to communicate with the person or persons who decided not to, for instance, promote or hire you. If their answer is unsatisfactory, consider escalating your inquiries further, including talking to other people who may have knowledge of the situation or behavior of those involved.
First off, it is good to have it on file how the people you may be accusing of gender discrimination feel about a certain gender. While gender discrimination can be experienced by men, women, or non-binary people, discrimination against women is the most common, mainly due to the fact that men are more represented in positions of power in many businesses. With that said, keep an ear out.
Does your boss think women are meant to be submissive? Does your boss think men are oafish? Does your boss think that non-binary people are just looking for attention? These kinds of questions are important to get on the record, and if you can verify it, this could lend credence to your claims of gender discrimination. One may consider using recording equipment to capture a discriminatory conversation, but depending on your state, this may be deemed illegal. For example, California is a two-party consent state, which means that you need to have the prior permission of those being recorded before you can record them.
One of the best ways to demonstrate that you suffered from gender discrimination is to show a pattern of behavior by the person or persons who you believe engaged in this behavior. If you are the only person making the accusation, it becomes your word against theirs. And especially when they have power over you, you may find that going forward with a gender discrimination case may put yourself at risk in a workplace environment.
Some employers will be inclined to see you as a troublemaker no matter how valid your claim of gender discrimination is, so if you go in halfcocked, that may do you rather poorly. So, a good piece of advice is to observe the behavior by those you seek to accuse of gender discrimination and see if they engage in this behavior with anyone else. If you do, you can approach that person to see how they feel about the situation. If they feel similarly, that offers some level of benefit to your case, as it demonstrates multiple people making a similar claim to yours.
One unfortunate complication that you may run into with a gender discrimination case, at least in terms of whether you were laid off because of your gender, is that some states operate on at-will employment. This removes legal liability from the employer for firing someone for no reason. They do not have to give you a reason, so it puts a greater burden of proof on you to demonstrate that you were fired over your gender.
If you feel you have enough strength for a gender discrimination claim, contacting a gender discrimination lawyer should be your next step. Once you get to this step, you need to show that you were discriminated against as a protected class. Next, you need to show that you were treated in a certain way that would be regarded as unacceptable, such as getting passed over for a promotion despite being qualified for it and promoted someone outside of your protected class.
It is then on your employer to demonstrate that the person hired was qualified. Things may vary from state to state, but this is often the case. Now you must respond with evidence to suggest that their case is invalid. Witness testimony to suggest that they have discriminatory ideas against members of your protected class, or if you can find it, records of other promotions. For example, your manager may promote men disproportionately more often than women. Either way, it may be a difficult task, so take care.
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