Despite the significant strides made in gender equality in recent years, it is still quite common for women to be discriminated against in the employment field on a number of levels. There may be many times when a woman is passed over for promotion or employment due to discriminatory reasons. If you believe you have encountered this unfair treatment, you have a right to speak up.
Gender discrimination is a phenomenon that endures. While the South Carolina Human Affairs Law (SCHAL) prohibits discrimination in hiring, employment, promotions or any other job-related activity if done solely on the basis of gender, in reality, cases of gender discrimination continue to emerge. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the figure for discrimination claims brought based on alleged gender/sex discrimination has hovered around 30 percent for the last decade.
Options for Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim Based on Gender
The SCHAL establishes the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, which will generally attempt to mediate disputes between employees and their employers, but there are also provisions which permit an employee to attempt to bring a charge with the federal EEOC directly. If neither of these options for resolution bear fruit, the employee may be given a right-to-sue letter and permitted to file a claim under Title VII, the SCHAL, or any other relevant law regarding the alleged discrimination. Either way, this process can be complicated. It is wise to discuss your claim with an experienced employment discrimination attorney.
Another, somewhat more insidious form of discrimination experienced by female workers is discrimination against pregnant women. It is not uncommon for this type of unequal treatment to wear the proverbial cloak of a bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ claim), such as in jobs which require some physical labor. In reality, however, to be a BFOQ, a job requirement must have a grounding in logical business or safety concerns. For example, a pregnant woman may be excused from a job as a construction worker, which requires significant physical labor and may involve considerable danger. A pregnant woman may not be excused or otherwise terminated from a desk job, even if a coworker or customer preference would wish that she should be simply for being pregnant.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an addendum to Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it essentially characterizes pregnancy as a temporary disability. While no permanently disabled worker may be discriminated against, the PDA specifically states that as long as a woman is able to perform the “major functions” of her job, she must not be treated any differently than she would if she were not pregnant. For example, if an employer permits other disabled workers to ask for and use reasonable accommodations, they may not prohibit the same considerations to pregnant workers. Failure to comply with this standard permits the woman to file under either the SCHAL or under Title VII itself.
Obtain Help from a Charleston, SC Employment Discrimination Attorney
While many women may be treated better than they used to be, it is still sadly frequent that gender or pregnancy is used as an excuse to give preference to others. If you have been the victim of such discrimination, consulting an employment discrimination lawyer may be a good idea. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has practiced employment law for years, and is happy to help answer your questions about where you should go from here.
Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.