What Is the Difference Between Sexual Harassment & Gender Discrimination?

Although the terms “sexual harassment” and “gender discrimination” are often used interchangeably, these words do not mean the same thing. It is important to understand what each of these terms means in case you find yourself in the unfortunate position of experiencing sexual harassment or gender discrimination. Below, we break down the differences between the two definitions.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment covers a wide range of acts, all sexual in nature, that cause someone to experience harm or discomfort. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that unwelcome sexual remarks, displays of sexual materials, intrusive sexual inquires, and non-consensual physical contact are all examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. Dirty jokes and sexual requests or bribes are also considered acts of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t just refer to your co-workers. It can also include the customers you serve. Sexual harassment can also take place outside of work in social settings or at professional gatherings. Sexual harassment laws and regulations vary by state, which is why you should seek out a skilled attorney if you have experienced sexual harassment at work.  An experienced attorney can review your case and determine a legal strategy that is right for your situation.

What Is Gender Discrimination?

Gender discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfavorably by their employer, or prospective employer, because of their gender or their connection to a group associated with a particular gender.

Like sexual harassment, it is illegal at the federal level for an employer to exhibit gender-based discrimination at work. Some states also have their own laws to cover gender-based discrimination.

According to the EEOC, employers cannot use a person’s gender as the basis for discrimination in any area of their employment. This includes hiring, laying off, or firing personnel, as well as job promotions and pay raises. Gender discrimination laws also cover fringe benefits, bonuses, and other types of eligible compensation.

Although the definitions of sexual harassment and gender discrimination are different, some aspects overlap. For example, the two merge when an employer has a pattern of promoting men over women, unless the female employees agree to the employer’s sexual advances. In this scenario, the employer would be subject to both sexual harassment and gender discrimination laws.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Harassed or Discriminated Against?

If you have been discriminated against based on gender, consult with an experienced attorney to discuss you legal options. At Habbas & Associates, we understand how stressful these types of cases can be. Our lawyers are here to stand by your side and ensure your rights are protected. Let us help you obtain the justice you deserve.

Contact our team of San Jose sexual harassment attorneys to schedule a free consultation today.

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