Gender Discrimination Laws in California - Los Angeles Employment Attorney

Gender Discrimination Laws in California

The state of California is known for its strong worker protection laws – including gender discrimination laws. But what are the gender discrimination laws in California, and how might they apply in your situation? Here’s what you need to know.

Gender Discrimination Laws in California

The gender discrimination law in California that most people refer back to is the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA. However, there are other laws that protect people from some aspects of gender discrimination, such as the Fair Pay Act and the California Equal Pay Act of 1949.

With these gender discrimination laws in California, your employer (or a potential employer) cannot discriminate against you when it comes to:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Pay
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Training
  • Benefits
  • Other terms and conditions of employment

If an employer does discriminate against you because of your gender, gender identity or gender expression, or your perceived gender, you may have legal grounds to sue.

Related: What is sex discrimination?

Examples of Violations of Gender Discrimination Laws in California

Check out these examples of violations of gender discrimination laws in California – but keep in mind that most employers are not so obvious. Gender discrimination can occur even if nobody says it out loud.

Example 1: Male Nurses

A nursing care facility prefers to hire male nurses because the supervisor there feels they’re stronger and better-able to help move heavier patients. It places a job ad online that offers a higher rate of pay for men. The employer in this case may be violating gender discrimination laws.

On the other hand, in some cases, it’s acceptable for a company to hire people of one gender rather than another. For example, if an all-women’s gym wants to hire a female masseuse because its main marketing angle is that it’s for women, by women, that is likely legal and not discriminatory.

Example 2: Penalties for Maternity Leave

A supervisor refuses to allow a woman back into her job because the woman took time off to have or adopt a baby. The supervisor offers her a different job with fewer benefits and less pay because she took time off for childbirth. This is most likely gender discrimination.

However, if the woman has a string of bad performance reviews and fails to tell anyone she’s taking time off to have a baby, the employer may be justified in offering her a different job – or even in firing her.

Related: Can you be fired for being pregnant?

Example 3: Promotions for Less-Qualified Men

A supervisor promotes a man who’s less-qualified for the position than a woman who also wanted the promotion is. In this case, the supervisor (and the company) may be guilty of gender discrimination. Likewise, if the company wants to put more women in management positions, it would be discrimination to promote a less-qualified woman over a more-qualified man. Many people have successfully sued over these violations of gender discrimination laws in California.

Example 4: Men Being Held to Higher Standards

A man is held to more rigorous performance standards than a woman is in the workplace. For example, his supervisor expects him to write 3,000 lines of code, produce twice as many products, or file more paperwork than his women counterparts do. The employer may be guilty of gender discrimination, even if a supervisor or manager believes that men are more capable than women are. The same is true when the opposite occurs – when women are held to higher or more stringent standards than men are because of their gender.

Example 5: Dress and Grooming

An employer tells a woman she should grow out her hair to look more presentable or appealing to customers, or tells a man he should cut his hair for the same or similar reasons. The employer may be giving in to sex stereotypes, which are a form of gender discrimination.

However, if an employer has grooming standards – like the military, for example – that directly pertain to a person’s job performance (long hair and facial hair can prevent a gas mask from sealing properly), requiring people to meet those standards is not discrimination.

Related: 5 signs of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Gender Discrimination?

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your gender, we may be able to help you. Call our office now at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule your free consultation – we’ll ask you about your situation, answer your questions, and help you start moving forward toward justice.


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