Gender Discrimination

Rob Wiley: I'm Rob Wiley and today I'm talking to Austin employment lawyer Colin Walsh about gender discrimination. Now Colin, one of the concepts that we hear a lot about in the field of gender discrimination is the glass ceiling. What is the glass ceiling?

Colin Walsh: The glass ceiling is the barrier that prevents women from rising as high as the men in the work place.

Rob Wiley: Is it real?

Colin Walsh: It is definitely real. We see it all the time. Women are not given the same opportunities.

Rob Wiley: So, what does the law have to say about gender discrimination?

Colin Walsh: Well, the law says that gender discrimination is wrong. It's against the law. If you're not being promoted and you're as qualified as a male coworker then you may have experienced gender discrimination. You should talk to an employment attorney about that.

Rob Wiley: I think gender discrimination is an area where you always see biases and prejudices that get applied to women workers in ways that they're not applied to men. Sometimes you see a preference for a gender in a particular job; an idea that this is a man's job. You might very well see differences in pay in terms of what male employees are being paid versus female employees, and then there is always the issue of promotions or sometimes when there's contractions in the workplace it's the women that find themselves being cut first. But when we talk about biases and prejudices I think that there is an additional type of bias and prejudice that women often face and that is implicit bias. What is implicit bias?

Colin Walsh: Implicit bias would be the bias where you just prefer a man over a woman. It's something you can't quite explain but you feel a man does a certain job or task better than a woman.

Rob Wiley: Well and I heard, an explanation of implicit bias that finally explained it to me and it involved the symphony. Used to be, if you went to any symphony in, in the county, in the 1950s you would find that almost, well you'd find that every single member of the symphony orchestra would be male. And of course people that were in the symphony said, you know, hey we're liberal, we're not biased, we’re in favor of women's rights, we just can't find any women that are talented enough to be in the symphony. And then they imposed a rule that said from now on you're going to have to audition behind a curtain so they can hear what you're playing but they can't see who is playing it and, all of a sudden, women left and right got hired to be in symphonies.

Rob Wiley: And I think that's implicit bias. That is this thing that people have, that can be identified particularly through statistics but that holds women back in the work place. And then of course there are all the other things that can happen to women in the work place from being fired to not being promoted to pay issues. There's also issues of pregnancy and pregnancy discrimination. There are issues of sexual harassment that although that happens to men and women, tends to disproportionately affect women in the work place. So the fight for gender equality is really something that takes place on many fronts. And so, let's say that somebody feels like they're being discriminated against because of gender, how long do they have to take action?

Colin Walsh: If somebody feels they're being discriminated against because of gender they have 180 days from the date that they were discriminated against to take action in the state of Texas. That extends to 300 days if they want to protect their federal rights.

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