Gender Stereotypes

Austin Attorneys Asserting the Rights of Workers

The persistence of gender stereotypes can give rise to sex discrimination claims in Texas. When an employer discriminates against an employee because the employee does not conform to gender stereotypes, it is actionable. Often, gender stereotyping adversely affects people in the LGBTQ community. At Austin Employment Lawyers, P.C., our Austin sexual orientation discrimination lawyers can evaluate your particular situation and offer representation as appropriate.

Discrimination Based on Gender Stereotypes is Unlawful

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 prohibit workplace discrimination based on sex, which includes gender stereotyping. Gener stereotype discrimination can include a wide range of employment decisions, including whether to hire a job applicant, whether to fire an employee, how much to pay an employee, and whether to provide them with benefits.

Gender stereotyping can occur regardless of a person’s sexual orientation. However, sexual orientation discrimination is often predicated on gender stereotypes and arises when an employer makes a decision because an employee's gender does not conform to stereotypical ideas about how someone of that sex should appear or behave. This argument is particularly successful if someone is gender nonconforming.

For example, if you are a gay or heterosexual woman who is denied a partnership because you do not fit the male partners' idea of what a female leader should look like or speak like, and you are told that you are too masculine, you probably have a gender stereotype claim under Title VII. Similarly, if you are a gay or hetersosexual man harassed because you speak in what your boss thinks is a feminine way, you probably have a gender stereotype claim under Title VII. If your coworkers make frequent derogatory comments about you because you do not meet their stereotypes about what you should look, sound, or act like, you may have a hostile work environment claim under Title VII.

Some employers may defend against sex discrimination claims arising out of gender stereotypes by arguing that conforming to gender stereotypes is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). The BFOQ defense permits sex to be used as a criterion for an employment decision if an employer can show that sex or gender stereotypes are a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of a specific business or enterprise. For example, if a role in a television show calls for a person of a particular sex who possesses certain feminine characteristics, the BFOQ defense could apply.

Retaliation for engaging in a protected activity like complaining about gender stereotype discrimination is also prohibited under Title VII

The cities of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Plano, as well as Dallas County, explicitly provide protection for LGBTQ individuals. However, you cannot sue as a private citizen under these ordinances. To recover damages such as back pay, emotional distress, or punitive damages, you need to file a lawsuit under state or federal laws.

Consult an Experienced Austin Attorney Following an Incident of Discrimination

If you are subjected to discrimination because of gender stereotypes in your workplace, you should consult an employment discrimination attorney. This is a challenging and changing area of law, and it is important to retain knowledgeable and experienced lawyers to protect your rights. Austin Employment Lawyers, P.C. represents workers in cities such as Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment with an Austin lawyer.

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