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Gender Discrimination: Applicable Laws

Gender discrimination makes working, obtaining housing, getting an education, or engaging in other life activities challenging. The federal government has human rights laws to protect victims of gender discrimination.

These laws offer protection against discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and transgender status. They afford relief to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Many states have civil rights laws that mirror federal laws. Some state laws offer greater protections than federal courts. In addition, cities and counties can enact local laws, ordinances, and regulations related to civil rights.

Below is a list of federal laws that prohibit gender identity discrimination in several settings.

Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII (Equal Employment Opportunities)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the sex-based discrimination laws determined by the Supreme Court. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one such law.

Title VII does the following:

  • Protects individuals from discrimination in numerous areas, including employment practices and gender stereotypes
  • Prohibits employee discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national origin
  • Protects against sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual advances, sexual assault, or sexual favors in the work environment (including by co-workers)
  • Attempts to ensure reasonable accommodations for gender-neutral employment practices, employment decisions, and employment policies

Claims for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can be brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by employees or job applicants. The EEOC is a federal agency.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

The ECOA does the following:

  • Guarantees an equal opportunity to obtain credit
  • Prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of certain factors

These factors include:

  1. Sex
  2. Family status
  3. Race
  4. Color
  5. Religion
  6. National origin
  7. Age
  8. Receipt of public assistance program benefits

Fair Housing Act (FHA)

Prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on sex, familial status, race, color, national origin, religion, and disability.

Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)

Requires employers to pay all employees equally for similar work, regardless of gender.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Gives employees the right to take time off from work. This can be to care for a newborn or recently adopted child or to look after an ill family member.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The PDA does the following:

  • Prohibits employment discrimination against female workers who are, or intend to become, pregnant
  • Includes discrimination in hiring, failure to promote, and wrongful termination

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Title IX does the following:

  • Prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds
  • Intended to increase educational and athletic opportunities for women in schools and colleges nationwide

U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 21 - Civil Rights

  • Prohibits discrimination against individuals based on gender, age, disability, race, national origin, and religion (among other things) in many settings
  • Applies to education, employment, access to businesses and buildings, federal services, public accommodations, and more
  • Codifies (or arranges) federal acts related to civil rights

Federal acts related to civil rights include:

  1. The Civil Rights Act of 1866
  2. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  3. The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

Talk to an Attorney Now About Your Gender Discrimination Claim

Have you experienced adverse conditions of employment or been denied academic opportunities because of your gender or gender expression? If you have experienced these or similar scenarios, you may have a legitimate claim for gender discrimination. Don't second-guess your situation.

Find out for sure by speaking to an attorney. An attorney experienced in discrimination issues can help you with your potential claim.

You can find an attorney in your area with Findlaw's attorney directory.

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