Minnesota Sex Discrimination Lawyers
If you or a loved one are a victim of sex discrimination, reach out to an employment lawyer. The Heimerl & Lammers sex discrimination attorneys will review your situation, go over your legal options, and fight on your behalf to get you justice and compensation from the employer who discriminated against you based on your sex. For more information about how Heimerl & Lammers can help you, contact us for a free consultation by calling (612) 294-2200.
What Is Sex Discrimination?
Males, females, and intersex individuals all face unique challenges in the American workforce. Each individual grapples with varied assumptions about their capacity, roles, work-life needs, and preferences based on their sex. At times, the reality of such assumptions and the actions these assumptions inspire from superiors, co-workers, direct reports, customers, clients, and even third parties are simply annoying, frustrating, startling, or otherwise unsettling. However, there are also times when actions fueled by assumptions about the sex of an individual or group of workers rise to unlawful discrimination.
It is not always easy to discern when sex discrimination occurs in any given workplace. Is the conduct that an employee faces so egregious as to be unlawful? What if the behavior is not absurdly out of line, but it happens so often that it has started to affect an employee’s ability to do their job? Is grappling with sex discrimination a legally actionable challenge? The answers to all of these questions depend on the context of any one employee’s work situation.
It is, therefore, essential to avoid making assumptions about whether the mistreatment one is facing is legally unacceptable before an attorney has been given the opportunity to evaluate it. If you know or believe that you may be experiencing sex discrimination in the workplace, schedule a free, no-risk consultation today to learn more about your rights and options under the law.
The Ins And Outs Of Sex Discrimination Law – The Basics
Two primary federal laws govern sex discrimination in the workplace. First, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) safeguards workers who perform substantially equal work for the same employer from suffering from sex-based wage discrimination. Second, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, national origin, color, religion, and sex. Unfortunately, as is the case for every kind of discrimination, the passage of a law banning such discriminatory practices did not eradicate them. As a result, numerous additional laws and provisions have been enacted at the federal level to fill in loopholes in Title VII and to codify safeguards related to specific kinds of workplace sex discrimination and harassment.
State laws often extend sex discrimination protections to workers more generously than federal laws. If someone files a sex discrimination case in a state that benefits from more generous protections, the state law will serve as the primary authority in that case. For example, neither Title VII nor any other federal law prohibits workplace discrimination based on marital or family status. This is an especially significant omission for many women in the workforce who may be penalized in conservative communities for working while married and in virtually any community for working while raising children—especially very young children.
Thankfully, Minnesota law protects against discrimination in the workplace rooted in either of these two realities. Therefore, a Minnesotan can sue an employer in the state for discrimination in hiring, employment, or termination based on marital status or family status, even though no federal right to file such a case exists.
What Does Sex Discrimination In The Workplace Look Like?
Sex discrimination can take many forms in the workplace. Some are obvious, but most are subtle. You may even start to feel like you’re going a little nutty when trying to discern if the mistreatment that you’re experiencing is discrimination or an overreaction on your part. Rather than going mentally and emotionally round and round, come to our office for a free, confidential consultation so that our lawyers can bring some clarity to your concerns. Not all sex discrimination cases unfold under the same circumstances, so your situation may still be legally actionable even if it looks different than other cases you may have heard about. Common sex discrimination scenarios include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to hire, promote, or provide opportunities for a worker on account of sex
- Enforcement of different or higher standards on account of sex
- Harsher evaluation of a worker’s performance on account of sex
- Pay disparities on account of sex and not other, lawful standards
- Unusually harsh or unjust discipline on account of sex
- Retaliation against a worker for pregnancy or taking legally approved family leave
One of the most common manifestations of sex discrimination in the workplace is sexual harassment.
MN Employment Lawyers For Sex Discrimination
Were you wrongfully terminated or otherwise mistreated by your employer after bringing a sex discrimination claim? The gender discrimination lawyers at Heimerl & Lammers could help protect your rights if you were mistreated because of your sex or gender. We will review how state and federal laws affect your claim potential. We can also handle your claims on your behalf, including claims with Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Make sure to contact an experienced sex discrimination lawyer at Heimerl & Lammers for a free, confidential consultation.
Sexual harassment is generally defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at someone due to their sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. The same protections that safeguard individuals from sex discrimination in Title VII protect them from sexual harassment. Similarly, many state laws either extend general sex discrimination protections to victims of sexual harassment, or they specifically guard against sexual harassment in and of itself.
It is important to note that not all sexual harassment is legally actionable. For example, suppose a female construction worker visits a new job site and is cat-called once by an employee. In that case, that situation is unquestionably obnoxious and is sexual harassment but is not legally actionable. Certain legal criteria must be met before a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace can avail themselves of opportunities for legal recourse.
Types Of Sexual Harassment
There are two primary kinds of sexual harassment. The first kind is commonly referred to as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. This harassment type is a “this for that” exchange. In a workplace context, someone—usually in a position of authority, but not always—will insist that if a harassment victim endures their mistreatment, they will either benefit or avoid a specific negative consequence. For example, in exchange for sexual favors, the harasser will recommend that the victim receives a pay raise. Or, in exchange for sexual favors, the harasser will not fire the victim.
The second primary kind of legally actionable sexual harassment occurs when harassment leads to the development of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment develops when the unwelcome conduct in question is severe or repeated so many times that a reasonable person would perceive the victim’s situation as abusive, hostile, or otherwise intimidating.
Most of the time, hostile work environments develop due to repeated incidents of harassment. For example, say that the female construction worker from the earlier example was not cat-called once by a single co-worker but was cat-called daily by a significant portion of her crew. The repetitive nature of the harassment could lead to the development of a hostile work environment.
Occasionally, a one-time form of harassment is so egregious that it gives rise to a hostile work environment in and of itself. If you are unsure whether the conduct you’re encountering at work rises to a hostile work environment level, please voice your concerns in a confidential, no-cost, risk-free legal consultation with our firm. We can clarify your rights and options without strings attached to this guidance.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed even before Title VII became law. Yet, the pay disparity discrimination that women and some intersex people experience in the workplace remains an ever-present influence on the American economy. Under the EPA—a portion of the amended Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938—women and intersex people cannot be paid less than men or receive different benefits than men under certain circumstances. Generally speaking, for the provisions of the EPA to apply, the workers in question must work under similar conditions, and the work performed must require the same level of effort, responsibility, and skill.
Wage disparities persist partially because most compensation schemes aren’t transparent. It isn’t usually easy to discern how much your colleagues are getting paid and whether your compensation and benefits are different from theirs. However, suppose you have a strong sense that you are being compensated differently than others in your organization. That disparity seems to be related to your sex and not your performance, seniority issues, merit, or the distinctions between your job duties. In that case, it is time to speak with an attorney about your situation. There are ways for attorneys to investigate the truth to facilitate both clarity and (if need be) justice.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. As a result, if you are being discriminated against due to your intention to become pregnant, a current pregnancy, a condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, or a recent pregnancy, you may have strong grounds for filing legal action.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission broadly defines pregnancy discrimination as the unfavorable treatment of a woman applicant or employee due to pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Often, pregnancy discrimination manifests so that the victim feels that they have no option but to accept the mistreatment. For example, suppose a woman returns from legally protected leave as detailed in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to discover that her job duties and hours have been altered. In that case, she may understandably feel that there is nothing to be done. Or, if an employer insists that a worker return from her FMLA leave early or risk termination, a new mother who cannot risk financial insecurity may feel that she has no choice but to accept the terms of her employer’s demands.
It is important to understand that no matter how subtle the discrimination or harassment may be—and no matter how powerless you may feel about your situation—the law safeguards your right to enjoy the benefits of the hiring process and employment free from pregnancy discrimination. Our attorneys can—in a confidential setting—clarify your rights and advise you of your options so that you can make whatever informed decisions best suit your needs at this time.
Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity
Sex discrimination refers to discriminatory treatment based on an individual’s biological sex or assigned birth sex. Yet, many who choose to discriminate against others draw either no distinction or little distinction between an individual’s sex and their gender… or even their sexual orientation. Thankfully, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission confirms that Title VII protects workers from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This confirmation was made after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. This decision formally extended the protections of Title VII to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In many parts of the country—including Minnesota—state law extends even more explicit and favorable safeguards to workers protected by these classifications than Title VII does. As a result, if you are being discriminated against in the workplace due to your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can explore your legal options and be confident that the law doesn’t generally tolerate this kind of mistreatment.
Many employment discrimination and harassment victims refrain from exploring their legal options because they are concerned about “stirring the pot.” They understandably worry that if they speak up in opposition to those causing them harm, they may face even greater mistreatment at the hands of those who already choose to infringe upon their rights. But, if you hesitate to speak with an attorney about your injustice, know that you are both protected by confidentiality during your consultation and protected from retaliation in the workplace, should you choose to act.
It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for exercising their legal rights. These legal privileges include the right to lodge a complaint about discriminatory treatment to government agencies, take a legally protected leave of absence from work—such as FMLA leave—and exercise one’s protected options for legal recourse. In short, the law safeguards against employer retaliation. Sometimes, retaliation occurs anyway. But, with our firm advocating on behalf of your interests, you can be confident that if your employer attempts to retaliate against you, we will work tirelessly to hold them accountable for their misdeeds.
Connect With A Trusted Minnesota Employment Discrimination Lawyer To Learn More
You do not need to know how these standards may or may not apply to your situation before scheduling a free, no-risk consultation with our trusted legal team. Our responsibility is to understand the ins and outs of the law and how the law is applied to different circumstances. Your only responsibility is to seek professional legal guidance if you know or believe that you are experiencing unlawful mistreatment. Once you have taken the courageous and vulnerable step of connecting with the Heimerl & Lammers employment discrimination legal team, we’ll be able to evaluate your circumstances and provide you with personalized feedback.
It is important to understand that attending a consultation does not obligate you to work with our firm, nor does it obligate you to pursue legal action. Our law firm is proud to offer free legal consultations to anyone whose employment rights may have been infringed upon because we truly believe that knowledge is power. Once you have received reputable legal guidance, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your situation. Should you decide to pursue legal action in the future, our attorneys and support staff will build the most robust possible case on your behalf.
To learn more about our firm’s approach to representation, connect with us by calling (612) 294-2200. We look forward to speaking with you.