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Employment law

Sex/Gender Discrimination

Introduction to Sex/Gender Discrimination


Ohio and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sex or gender. Gender or sex discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee unequally based on the fact that the employee is a woman or is a man. During all phases of the employment process, the policies and practices in the workplace should be equal between men and women. This includes matters involving hiring, compensation, layoffs, promotions, job training, working conditions, benefits, and other privileges. An employer cannot make employment decisions based on gender stereotypes and other assumptions about men and women. 

Some examples of sex or gender discrimination are:

  • Refusing to hire or give promotions to someone based on gender
  • Giving benefits to wives of male employees but not to husbands of employees who are women
  • Paying a male employee more than a female coworker for a substantially similar position (see the information below regarding the Equal Pay Act)
  • Refusing to hire or promote an employee because of his or her family responsibilities
  • Comments such as "I'm concerned that she might be too emotional," "We need people who are more rational," "She is too unapproachable," or "Her tone is too direct"
  • Refusing to promote a woman because she is pregnant or intends to become pregnant

Sex Discrimination is Particularly Prevalent in the Medical Field

Female doctors are significantly more likely to experience at least one form of discrimination in their practices. This discrimination may include receiving pay that is less than peers at the same level, not being fairly considered for promotions, not being included in administrative decisions, and experiencing other obstacles to their career advancement. According to a recent article, 30-70% of female medical school faculty experience discrimination. Although women make up 46% of medical school applicants, residency trainees, and students, they only make up 21% of full professors.

Whether you are a doctor, a nurse, or a technician in the medical field, you have worked hard to get where you are, and you should not be subject to discrimination or harassment in the workplace because of your gender. If you believe that you were a victim of sex discrimination in the medical field, you should retain an experienced Ohio sex discrimination attorney to advocate for your rights.

Less Pay for the Same Work

If you are doing substantially equal work as someone else and are being paid less than a coworker of the opposite sex, you may have a legal claim under the Equal Pay Act. You may have an Equal Pay Act claim if you are doing Google searches for:

  • I am being paid less because I’m a woman.
  • I am making less money than men doing the same job.
  • My job pays men higher salaries than women in the same position.
  • I’ve been with the company for ten years, but they are paying new hires more.
  • My boss pays younger workers with less experience more than me.
  • I have a lower base pay because I am a woman.
  • Why am I being paid less than others for doing the same job?
  • How do I get equal pay for equal work?
  • My boss discriminates against me by paying me less.
  • As a woman, am I entitled to equal pay for doing the same job as a man?

The Equal Pay Act requires men and women to receive equal pay for equal work. While the jobs performed by the male and female employees do not need to be identical, they must be “substantially equal” based upon the job duties and required qualifications. Employers cannot evade their obligations under the Equal Pay Act by assigning different titles for the same jobs. Specifically, the Equal Pay Act provides that “[n]o employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate...between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”

The Equal Pay Act contains certain exceptions. There is no violation when unequal pay results from “(i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex.” These exceptions are “affirmative defenses,” which means that the employer has the burden to prove that one of these exceptions applies. Under the EPA, an employer cannot correct a pay differential by reducing the pay of higher paid employees. Instead, the employer must increase the pay of the lower paid employee to match that of the high paid employees.

Ohio has its own Equal Pay Act: Chapter 4111.17 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Ohio Equal Pay Act forbids wage discrimination on the basis of sex, but goes even further by forbidding it on the basis of race, color, religion, age, and national origin as well.

Contact The Durst Law Firm if You Are Subjected to Sex/Gender Discrimination

We have extensive experience helping people who have been discriminated against, harassed, and fired. If you have a sex or gender discrimination case, we will help you through every stage until justice is done. Call us at (513) 621-4999 or call Alex’s direct line at (513) 621-2500 today to request an appointment to meet with us.