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California Law on Gender Discrimination at the Workplace Pt 1July 1, 2019 0 Comment Category: Employment Law
It is hard to believe the topic “gender discrimination” is still relevant in today’s day and age. Did you know that gender discrimination in California is a violation of federal law and California State law? It is illegal for employers to discriminate on genders according to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the California Equal Pay Act of 1949, and the California Fair Pay Act. In fact, discriminating against an employee based on their sex, gender, gender expression, or gender identity is unlawful under the FEHA.
There are many different forms of gender discrimination, including firing, discharging, refusing to hire, compensation, and refusing to promote an employee. According to the FEHA, when an employer discriminates based on the “sex” of the individual, there is more than just the difference between how a male vs. female employee is treated. Sex discrimination can include pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers, or even medical conditions that may be related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or childbirth.
A person’s gender is also included when it comes to discrimination based on sex, as well as gender expression and identity. Gender expression is when someone’s appearance and behaviors may differ from the sex the individual was assigned at the time of birth. It is prohibited for labor organizations as well as trade unions to restrict membership, exclude, or expel an employee or person based on their sex. The same goes for employment agencies and apprenticeship programs.
It is not unheard of to have preconceived ideas or stereotypes based on gender when employers or others are looking for candidates. Some of the stereotypes include the ability to perform the job, work habits, qualifications, physical ability, and the productivity of the employee. These stereotypes are cast on both males and females, and the law prohibiting gender discrimination allows to protect employees by basing opportunities on their skills and abilities, instead of their gender.
The BFOQ (Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications) defense is set in place for when an employer needs to justify their case for not giving an opportunity to one employee over the other. There are a few limited exceptions where the employees are treated differently based on the employer’s practice. Although it may not be relevant to most jobs, some of these opportunities could include, same-sex, childcare or health care specialists and therapeutic services.
On the other hand, the California Equal Pay Act ensures that all employees who perform similar work based on their skills, effort, and responsibility are to be paid equally, regardless of their gender. The act intends to reduce the difference of compensation between a male and a female who perform a similar duty.