San Francisco Sex Discrimination Lawyer

Women across this country [are] still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn — women of color even less — which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income, and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

– President Barack Obama, January 27, 2009


Gender Discrimination at Work

Despite the strides made in eliminating gender bias, women still suffer discrimination in the workplace. At Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, our employment lawyers have successfully pursued claims on behalf of California employees who were harmed by illegal sex discrimination.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII prohibit discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of an employee’s sex. The federal Equal Pay Act and California’s recently passed Fair Pay Act both prohibit employers from paying employees of one sex less than employees of another sex. Specifically, California’s Fair Pay Act prohibits disparities in pay for “substantially similar” work.  For more details on California’s Fair Pay Act and equal pay protections, see our recent blog post.

Types of Gender Discrimination

Wage discrimination occurs where an employer pays employees of one sex less than employees of the other sex for the same work. This type of discrimination is illegal under the California Fair Pay Act, the Equal Pay Act, and other laws.

Sexual Harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Sexual harassment claims can involve situations where a boss or supervisor demands or requests sexual favors in exchange for continued employment or other benefits. A hostile work environment claim may exist when a workplace is dominated by offensive, sexually explicit material or employees are subjected to sexually abusive behaviors from managers, clients, supervisors or coworkers.

Pregnancy Discrimination includes situations where an employer takes an adverse employment action against a female employee because of pregnancy or childbirth. Discriminatory actions taken because of pregnancy or childbirth can include treating pregnancy-related disability differently than other types of disability.

Breastfeeding Accommodations: Under California’s Lactation Accommodation Law, employees are allowed to take breaks to express or pump breast milk for their infant children. Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a private place for expressing milk.

Case Example

In Dominguez-Curry v. Nevada Transp. Dep’t, the plaintiff alleged that her employer failed to promote her to the Program Officer III position on the basis of her gender. Id. In support of her claim the plaintiff presented evidence that her supervisor had stated that he was “going to hire a man” for that position. Id. The Ninth Circuit held that this comment by a plaintiff’s supervisor was neither isolated nor ambiguous, and was alone sufficient to justify a finding that the hiring decision was motivated at least in part by gender. Id. at 1041.