What Does the Law Say?


Where are the laws regarding sex discrimination in GA found?


In GA, claims of sex discrimination can be brought under federal law or state tort law.


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


The federal law regarding sex discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits any discrimination in the workplace based on sex. Title VII has been amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which guarantees equal employment treatment to pregnant women. Leave time, including maternity leave, is also included as part of Title VII as part of the Family Medical Leave Act.


To whom does the federal law apply?


Title VII applies to public and private employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or proceeding year. This includes state and local governments. Under Title VII, there are some employers who are exempt from the act and thus their employees are not covered under Title VII. The United States is one example, as it is wholly owned by the Government of the United States. Indian tribes and the District of Columbia are also exempt. Most private membership clubs, other than labor organizations, are also exempt.


Under the federal law, what is illegal?


Under Title VII, an employer is not allowed to fire or refuse to hire a woman, or otherwise discriminate against an employee in regards to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of her sex.


What constitutes sex or gender discrimination under federal law?


Under Title VII, an employer is not allowed to limit, segregate, or classify female employees in any way which would deprive them of any employment opportunities or otherwise negatively affect their employee status because of her sex. Specific employment practices which may be considered sex discrimination include: failure to hire, failure to promote, sexual harassment, wage discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, discriminatory termination, and retaliatory termination.


What is an "employee" under this law?


The term "employee" means any individual employed by an employer.


Are women a "protected class"?


Yes, under Title VII, women are a protected class.


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


Your employer can only treat women differently on the basis of their sex if they can prove that the discrimination was a bona fide occupational qualification. This means that the qualification was substantially job related and necessary for the operation of the business.


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


Your employer will attempt to show a legitimate, non discriminatory reason for their behavior. If your employer offers legitimate reasons for the action taken against you, you then need to show that the reasons offered by your employer are just superficial excuses to act discriminatorily. It is always your responsibility to prove that sex discrimination was the reason for your employer's actions.


What are examples of legitimate, non discriminatory reasons for discharge?


As mentioned, once you have shown that you were qualified for the job and performed at an acceptable level, your employer will then provide a legitimate, non discriminatory reason for discharge. Examples of legitimate, non discriminatory reasons for discharge include; whether you were not qualified and were hired for reasons unrelated to your experience (such as having an affair with your supervisor), whether you were a problem employee through continual tardiness, or whether you had difficulty working with supervisors and peers. Furthermore, if your replacement is female, your employer has effectively negated your wrongful discharge suit, unless you can prove the claim under a different protected class. Finally, the employer may provide general statistics proving they have fired more men than women in the last year to counter any claims of discriminatory behavior.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


An employee has 180 days to file a claim with the EEOC. If the claim is not brought within the 180 days, the opportunity to file the claim is lost.


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


In order to file a claim under Title VII, your employer must have 15 or more employees.


Who enforces the law?


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. To contact the EEOC, see How to File a Claim.or visit the EEOC.


How do I file a claim of sex discrimination with the EEOC?


For more information on filing a claim in Georgia, please see How to File a Claim.


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


For more information on available remedies, please see What do I get if I win?.


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


With the exception of wage discrimination, there are no state laws in GA that deal directly with sexual discrimination. However, depending on the type of discrimination that has occurred, lawsuits may be filed under tort claims such assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Sexual Harassment is an example of a type of discrimination that can be brought under state tort law.


To whom does the state tort law apply?


Under state law in Georgia, the size of the business and the number of employees have no affect on your ability to bring a claim of sexual harassment. Therefore, tort claims of this sort can be brought against any employer.


Under state tort law, what is illegal?


There are a variety of claims that can be brought under state tort law in GA. The most frequent of these is sexual harassment.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Generally speaking, claims must be brought within two years after the sexual harassment occurs. If the claim is filed after the two years have elapsed, the claim will essentially be lost.



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