Gender Discrimination Laws

Gender discrimination has been in the news quite a bit lately. The most eye-catching cases involve celebrities and discrimination within the entertainment industry, but these issues permeate through to everyday businesses, large and small. I’m thankful to work in an office environment that is close-knit, and I’ve never had to deal with discrimination because of my gender and orientation. But I think about how I would go about dealing with those issues if I had to, and it seems like it would be a really hard situation to navigate. I know that I have a right to not be directly discriminated against, but what if my manager began to make hateful or gross comments towards me? Will my job be safe if I report my boss? How much will office politics play into how things go? Will I end up just hurting my career by complaining about issues like this?

I turned to the internet to see if I could find stories from people in situations like this. I found some great legal information from the Austin attorneys at The Melton Law Firm. These attorneys work in Austin, Texas and represent people who have been affected by discrimination in the workplace. They know the ins and outs of what’s allowed, what is not, and how to prove when discrimination has taken place.

The history of discrimination laws in the United States begins in 1963, when the Equal Pay Act went into effect, making it illegal to pay different wages for the same job based on sex. However, the act did little to prevent discrimination in the overall hiring process. Swift changes soon followed with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This act made it illegal to not hire someone based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Shortly after in 1968, we saw the Age Discrimination in Employment Act go into place. Another big win for women in the workplace came in the late 1970s with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This 1978 bill made it illegal for employers to discriminate against women because of pregnancy or birth-related situations. The related Family and Medical Leave Act forced corporations to give women a minimum amount of time off after giving birth.

The history of all of this is fascinating, but it still leaves me wondering if office politics can work against me. The answer seems to be yes and no. There are laws in Texas that protect people who speak up against unethical behavior in the office. I can’t be fired for reporting harassment from a supervisor. However, in the worst scenario, it could make the office a hostile place for me. If this turned out to be the case and I was punished for my reporting, I could sue for financial compensation and move my career elsewhere. The compensation I receive would likely be able to sustain me while I hunted for another job. It may end up being more than enough for the time in between. But like I earlier said, I love where I work, and I don’t think I’ll have to deal with anything like that in the future.