Sex Discrimination

The attorneys at Patterson Harkavy have litigated some of the highest profile sex discrimination lawsuits in the state.  In one case, our attorneys secured the largest sexual harassment jury verdict in state history.  In another, we successfully challenged Duke University’s exclusion of a female placekicker from the university’s football team.

If you think you were the victim of unlawful sex discrimination, contact us to see if we can help.

What is sex discrimination?

Sex discrimination occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or employee unfavorably because of his or her sex.

What laws make sex discrimination illegal?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of a number of characteristics, including sex. Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but some forms of “disparate impact” discrimination, where an employment practice unintentionally places a greater burden on one gender. It likewise prohibits sexual harassment if it is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile work environment, or if results in a “tangible employment action” such as firing, demotion, or a failure to promote.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”) is a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibiting employers from paying male and female employees differently when those employees work at the same establishment, perform very similar work requiring the same skill and effort, and have similar levels of responsibility and similar working conditions.  The EPA considers “wages” to include not only employees’ salaries, but also things like vacation or holiday pay, gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, use of a company car, insurance, and retirement benefits.

Certain discrepancies in pay are exempt from the mandate laid out by the EPA.  For example, an employer typically does not violate the EPA when an employee’s pay is determined by a merit system, seniority system, by a system that depends on a production quota, or by some other factor other than sex.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law in 2009.  It amended the statute of limitations in Title VII to a victim of wage discrimination to recover back pay for up to two years before the filing of a discrimination claim.

What can I do?

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to your sex, call Patterson Harkavy toll free at 1-800-458-2541 or contact us online.