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Confronting gender discrimination on the job

The rise of the #MeToo movement has highlighted the ongoing issues that women face on the job in Texas and across the country. Despite the successes women have achieved in many high-profile industries, they continue to face sexual harassment, pay discrimination and other types of mistreatment in the workplace. Employers also have a responsibility to prevent discrimination on the job, even when it is carried out by an employee rather than by policy, so it can be important for managers and human resources departments to keep a clear eye toward eliminating gender-based biases.

A number of the incidents that women may experience at work may be less clear-cut than traditional incidents of sexual harassment or overt denials of a promotion based on sex or gender. These "micro-inequities" can include the behavior of executives who frequently interrupt women when speaking, but not men, or who regularly acknowledge and praise men for their accomplishments, but not women. If the effects of these issues are limited to unpleasant interpersonal interactions, the employer may not face legal liability. However, in some cases, these incidents can expose an underlying reality of serious workplace discrimination.

Therefore, it can be important for both employees and managers not to dismiss concerns about these kinds of issues, regardless of the offender's stated intent. It may be necessary to evaluate the situation objectively; for example, some people interrupt both men and women and are frequently bored and dismissive overall. While this type of behavior is negative, it is not a form of discrimination.

However, it can be critical to address the behavior when it does happen. Women who speak up when confronted with gender discrimination can begin to create a record that documents their experiences in the workplace. An employment lawyer can work with people facing employment discrimination to file complaints with the applicable agencies.

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