What Did the “a Day Without a Woman” Strike Teach Us About Workplace Equality?
International Women’s Day last week coincided with a “a Day Without a Woman,” a global strike meant to emphasize equality and other human rights issues. Protests took place in Paris, Rome, Madrid, Yemen, and of course – all over the United States. Women in the U.S. participated in a walkout and withdrew participation in the consumer economy. In the U.S., a major focus was gender discrimination in the workplace.
The protest in the U.S. highlights several problems women face in the workforce. High rates of sexual harassment, a wage gap and other forms of discrimination.
- Sexual harassment: Recent news headlines are a reminder that women face high rates of sexual harassment. For example, the current controversy against Uber that we recently covered on our blog. A recent survey of 1,200 women working in fast food found 40 percent have been sexually harassed at work.
- Wage gap: The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that women earn less than men in every occupation except stock clerks and order filers. On average, women earn 78.6 percent of the wages made by their male coworkers. Minority women face an even steeper pay gap.
- Discrimination: Women also face high rates of pregnancy discrimination. They may be denied maternity leave, fired or discriminated against before or after becoming pregnant. Employers may also assume women cannot do jobs that have previously been considered a “man’s profession.” Women may be targeted with verbal harassment and discrimination. Coworkers or employers may use gender-specific nicknames or perpetuate stereotypes.
Which Laws Protect Against Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?
There are federal and state laws that protect women against various types of workplace discrimination. For example, California recently passed the Fair Pay Act, one of the toughest fair-pay laws in the country. Women also have protections under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. These are only a few examples.
If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace, your best bet is to contact an employment law attorney. You may have multiple legal options you could pursue. An attorney could help coordinate those options while protecting you from retaliation.