What Does the Law Say?


Where is the law regarding sex discrimination in employment in Arizona found?

The Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) prohibits sex discrimination in employment. The Employment Protection Act (EPA) governs all claims of wrongful termination in Arizona. The EPA states that an employer cannot fire you in violation of any Arizona statute, including the ACRA.


To whom does Arizona law apply?

The ACRA usually applies to employers who have 15 or more employees. However, for allegations of sexual harassment, the ACRA applies to employers with one or more employees. ACRA also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations. The ACRA does not apply to the United States or any department or agency of the United States or tax exempt private membership clubs, or Indian tribes.


Under Arizona law, what is illegal?

The ACRA prohibits employers from refusing to hire or failing to hire, discharging, or otherwise discriminating against any woman with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of her sex. The ACRA also prohibits employers from limiting or classifying women in order to deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status because of their gender.

It is not illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex when sex is a qualification that is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of business. It is not illegal for compensation or terms of employment to differ based on seniority or a merit system or a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production provided that the differences are not the result of intentional discrimination.


What is sex or gender discrimination?

Any practice or policy that treats women unfairly simply because they are women constitutes sex or gender discrimination. Such acts can either be overtly degrading to women (such as sexual harassment) or simply differential treatment toward women.


What constitutes sex or gender discrimination under Arizona law?

Under Arizona law, sex discrimination is unequal treatment because of sex in any of the following areas of employment:
(1) hiring
(2) discharge
(3) compensation
(4) terms
(5) conditions
(6) privileges
(7) referrals
(8) training or retraining
(9) admission to training or apprenticeship programs


What is an "employee" under this law?

To determine if you are an employee, the court will consider whether you depend on your employer for income, but will focus primarily on your employer's right to control the work that you do. This will include most employees, but if you are an independent contractor with a lot of freedom to determine the work you are doing, you may not be an employee under the ACRA.

Elected public officials and anyone appointed by an elected official, unless the person is subject to Arizona's civil service laws, is not considered an employee under the ACRA.


What is an "employer" under this law?

An employer is anyone who has 15 or more employees for each working day of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The scope of the law also includes any agent of that person. For sexual harassment allegations, an employer is a person who employs one or more persons in the current or preceding calendar year.


Are women a "protected class"?

Yes. Women are considered a protected class under Title VII, which is a federal anti-discrimination law, the ACRA, which is the state law, and also under local ordinances in Tucson and Phoenix. As a statutorily protected class, women benefit from the protections of these laws; therefore, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against them.


Is there a federal law about sex discrimination?

Yes, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sex. It was amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which guarantees equal benefits to pregnant women. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 guarantees equal pay for equal work.


How does the Arizona law compare with federal in terms of coverage?

The ACRA contains the same principle anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, all of which pertain to the hiring, discharge, segregation, or classification of employees based upon an individual's sex. Arizona courts will often look to federal precedent in interpreting ACRA, according to the standards of Title VII.


Is it ever okay for my employer to treat or impact women differently because of their sex?

It is lawful for your employer to hire on the basis of sex in the following situations:
(1) if sex is a legitimate employment qualification that is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise.
(2) if there is a legitimate seniority or merit system -- provided that the differences are not the result of an intention to discriminate because of sex.
(3) if there is a differential authorized by the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.


In a nutshell, what must I prove to win my case?

You must prove that the adverse actions taken by your employer were motivated by your sex. You can sustain a claim by showing that a seemingly neutral practice or policy has a discriminatory impact on women, or you can show that actions taken by your employer were motivated primarily by sex discrimination. To show discriminatory motivation, all you must initially do is provide enough evidence from which a judge or jury could infer that your employer was motivated by sex discrimination.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to their denials?

Your employer can rebut allegations of discrimination by stating a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. You may then prove to the judge or jury that your employer's stated reasons for discharge were not the true reasons for discharge, and that the actual reasons for disparate treatment were discriminatory.


Who enforces the law?

The ACRD is responsible for enforcement of all ACRA claims.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?

Under the ACRA, you must file a claim with the ACRD or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discrimination. Keep in mind that you cannot pursue a private employment discrimination lawsuit in court without going through either the ARCD or the EEOC first.

For more information see How to File a Claim


What options do I have if my employer has fewer than 15 employees?

If your employer has less than 15 employees you will not be able to bring a discrimination claim under the ACRA. However, you can still try to make change in the workplace by taking action such as talking to your employer or starting a WAGE club.


If I prove my discrimination claim, what remedies am I entitled to?

You will be entitled to equitable relief, which is relief intended to reverse the harm you have suffered and restore you to the position you were in before the discrimination took place. You may be able to recover back pay to compensate you for lost earnings, front pay to compensate for a pay differential resulting from discrimination, injunctive relief to correct your employer's discriminatory practices, or reinstatement to any position that you lost as a result of discrimination.For more information see What Can I Get If I Win.


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