Gender gap in most workplaces is still very paramount with new research showing that gender roles parity has not been achieved. In a recent study carried out by the United States “bureau of labor statistics,” it was established that women working for between 41 and 44 hours in a week in major cities earn 84. 6% of their counterpart male workers working in similar hours. The study further established that women who work for over 60hrs on a weekly basis earn 78. 3% as compared to men in this category (Grohol, 2009).
While gender discrimination has reduced in most sectors, it has not fully been eradicated in most companies. Gender discrimination is a form of employment discrimination that refers to differential treatment or adverse action against an individual that is imposed because he or she belongs to a particular gender and which could not have occurred had the individual been of a different gender or sex. It entails treating people differently in workplaces because a person is either a man or a woman.
Gender or sex discrimination can occur to both male and females although traditionally, women were the most discriminated against in workplaces. Gender discrimination is a crime under the equal employment opportunity act and can be prosecuted under the federal law of the United States (Williams, n. d). Federal law covering gender or sex discrimination As mentioned, gender or sex discrimination is an offense under the federal law and hence attracts a legal suit. Individuals are protected from sex discrimination under the Title VII of “civil rights act of the year 1994” (Workplace Fairness, 2010).
Under this law, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate people based on their sex during the hiring/recruitment process, in firing practices as well as all other employment terms and conditions including promotions, salary increment and offering of job opportunities. It “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin” (US EEOC, n. d). Title VII of “civil rights act of the year 1994” is enforced by “equal employment opportunities commission” (EEOC) that deals with employment issues.
The Title VII of “civil rights act” recommended the establishment of equal employment act which was later passed in the year 1972 (Lindemann & Grossman, 1976). The term person, under Title VII refers to one or many individual governmental agencies, labor unions, legal representatives, associations, governments, trustees, mutual companies, trusts, joint stock companies and unincorporated organizations. Employer covers person(s) dealing in an industry that affects commerce and who have a workforce of 15 or more employees in any working day of 20 or more weeks in a calendar or any agent working for such a person.
Excluded in this definition include wholly owned corporations by the United States government, the Unite States district of Columbia agencies or departments subjected to procedures by statute of competitive service and any Indian tribe (Pannick, 1985). Title VII covers local and state governments, educational institutions and private employers with a workforce consisting of fifteen or more employees. Also covered by these laws are the public and private employment agencies, “joint labor management committees” that controls training and apprenticeship and labor organizations.
The law protects individuals already in the working force as well as those applying for jobs. There are several gender discrimination issues outlined in these laws. They include hiring, promotion and firing, pay, job classification and benefits. Gender discrimination during the hiring process may occur or be manifested in various ways. If for example a female candidate who has all the necessary qualifications and experience applies for a job and later denied a chance simply because the clients of that particular company prefer dealing with men, then this amounts to gender discrimination and the aggrieved party can sue under Title VII laws.
Also, if a man for example is laid off as a result of reorganizations and cutbacks while women holding similar job with less experience or seniority are allowed to retain their jobs, this is also a form of gender discrimination covered by Title VII laws and enforceable by EEOC. Gender discrimination is also exhibited during promotion exercises whereby less experienced individuals are promoted while highly experienced and long serving employees are denied promotions because they belong to a specific gender (Solotoff & Kramer, 1994). Title VII also covers issues relating to pay.
Under this law, individuals with similar work experience and training and working in similar job category should be paid equal pay and any differential treatment based on gender amounts to gender discrimination in relation to pay. Equal pay act is another federal law that aims at curbing gender discrimination in relation to pay. For example, if a male employee has worked his way up to the position of a manager, and another female employee has recently been hired to a similar position having had trained and has work experience equivalent to the male employee, they should be given equal pay or otherwise it can amount to gender discrimination.
Job classification is another area where cases of gender discrimination have been reported. This occurs when job classification is carried out on preferential basis with less ‘desired’ gender being given unfair treatment. Benefits distribution is another area covered by Title VII laws. For example, failing to take a health insurance for a male spouse of a female employee and taking a cover for the female spouse of a male employee is discriminatory and illegal under the federal laws contained in civil rights acts (US EEOC, n. d).
Several law suits under sex or gender discrimination has been filed in the United States. In the year 1987, “Santa Clara county transportation agency” adopted an affirmative action which was meant to improve the promotion and hiring of women and minorities in areas where they had previously been underrepresented. Sex is one of the factors that are considered during the hiring and recruitment process. Under this plan, no specific number of vacancies is set aside for minorities and women. In the said year, the agency placed announced that it had a vacancy for promoting road dispatchers (FindLaw, 2010).
From the 238 positions, no position was occupied by a woman and several qualified applicants were interviewed for the position. In pursuant to the affirmative action, the agency went ahead to passing over a male employee and instead promoted a woman named Diana Joyce. The man who was overruled for promotion was rated equally qualified for the promotion. The petitioner later filed a law suit in a “federal district court” citing violation of Title VII of “civil rights act of 1964”. After careful analysis, the court ruled out that sex was a major factor for the promotion of Joyce as well as a selection factor.
Since there were no specific numbers of positions for women, the court ruled that the agency had discriminated against the male participant thus amounting to sex discrimination (FindLaw, 2010). Impact of civil rights act on sex discrimination and recommendations Gender discrimination in workplaces is not only de-motivating but also leads to widening of gender gap in workplaces and in the country. The civil rights act has both positive and negative impacts to employees and employers. The civil rights act has helped in minimizing gender discrimination especially against the women.
In so doing, women are today holding high offices in various corporations and government agencies. Gender discrimination law has also been able to achieve some level of gender equality in the workforce and has ensured that all individuals with similar qualifications are given equal chances while applying for jobs (Workplace Fairness, 2010). One of the major negative impacts of civil rights act is that it has become difficult for employers to implement or adopt plan aimed at promoting and improving representation especially for women in the workforce.
Via the equal employment opportunities act, all employees have a right to be given equal job opportunity, pay and other work related benefits with little regard to gender. Traditionally, most posts have been held by men, which have given them some kind of autonomy. Women should be encouraged to hold such positions by being given promotions and motivational tools. However, this is impossible today due to the civil rights act that gives men a right to sue a company for any such move. This is also disadvantageous to women as they have to compete in men dominated careers. This is also the case with men.
Some departments like human resource management has been held by women for quite a long time and men are underrepresented. Civil rights act and the EEOC prohibits any measures that may seem to give preferential treatment even if such efforts are meant to bring about gender parity (Townshend-Smith, 1989). Also, the civil rights act is only applicable to employers with fifteen or more employees. While in most states this has been changed, the government should minimize this number to ensure that even individuals working in areas with less than fifteen employees are covered.
To improve the gender discrimination act, the government should come up with laws that cater for gender discrimination but at the same time advocate for gender equality in workplaces. It should leave room for affirmative actions aimed at improving representation for the underrepresented genders to be implemented. Reference: FindLaw (2010), “Johnson v. Transportation agency, Santa Clara County, California, et a”,. Retrieved on 9th February 2010 from, http://caselaw. lp. findlaw. com/scripts/getcase. pl? court=US&vol=480&invol=616 Grohol, J. M. (2009), “Gender Discrimination in the Workplace”.
Retrieved on 9th February 2010 from, http://psychcentral. com/news/2009/10/09/gender-discrimination-in-the-workplace/8868. html. Lindemann, B. & Grossman, P. (1976), “Employment discrimination law”. ISBN 0871790742, Bureau of National Affairs Pannick, D. (1985), “Sex discrimination law”, Volume 1. ISBN 0198254814, Clarendon Press Solotoff, L. & Kramer, H. S. (1994), “Sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace”, ISBN 1588520625, Law Journal Press
Townshend-Smith, R. (1989), “Sex discrimination in employment: law, practice and policy”. ISBN 0421388609, Taylor & Francis US EEOC (n. d), “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964”. Retrieved on 9th February 2010 from, http://www. eeoc. gov/laws/statutes/titlevii. cfm Williams, S. (n. d), “What Is Gender Discrimination in the Workplace? ” Retrieved on 9th February 2010 from, http://www. ehow. com/about_5052133_gender-discrimination-workplace. html. Workplace Fairness (2010), “Sex / Gender Discrimination”, Retrieved on 9th February 2010