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We have more tools now to fight sex and gender discrimination


In 1970, 46 women rocked the business industry when they sued Newsweek Magazine. In particular, they alleged that they had been harmed by workplace gender discrimination, which was a novel thing to claim at the time. In fact, they were the first female media workers to sue as a result of discrimination based in sex or gender.

The landmark lawsuit changed the face of employment discrimination law in America. Following that lawsuit, men in the workplace had to think twice before sexually harassing women or ruining their future at a company if they refused to sleep with, accept the advances of, or tolerate lesser employment status than the men that they work with.

Unfortunately, while individuals may now think twice before sexually harassing each other or discriminating against each other based on sex and gender in the workplace, this kind of behavior remains far too common. Thankfully, individuals can now use certain legal remedies to protect themselves against this kind of treatment without great fear of retaliation.

First, several (or many) individuals can establish a pattern of harassment or discrimination in their workplace, they can band together like the Newsweek researchers and seek action collectively. However, even a single illegal act can empower workers to stand up for their rights individually as well.

In addition, workers with influence can encourage their human resources and hiring departments to engage in blind hiring practices. This means that these departments would evaluate candidates without being shown any information that would reveal a candidate's gender.

Finally, men and women who feel marginalized in their workplaces must seek out support and stand tall. It can be intimidating to do so, but the best way to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace is to raise your hand again and again until you are heard. The law helps to ensure that you will be protected if you do.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Women in the workplace: How 'good girls' fight back," Lynn Povich, Oct. 7, 2012

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