Prevent Sex-Based Discrimination in Your Workplace

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that employment discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sex-based discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of their gender or sexual orientation. 

Treating an employee differently based on who they are attracted to or how they identify is discrimination and a violation of their civil rights. 

Here’s where employers could potentially perpetuate sex-based discrimination.

Interviews

Interview questions should not be used to gather personal info. Employers should instead ask questions about the candidate’s ability to perform a job.

In an interview, the discussion should only be about the skills and responsibilities of a candidate. Federal law prohibits employers from asking about gender, marital status, race, religion, national origins, disability, or age.

Click here to read more about what to ask (and what to avoid at all costs) in job interviews. 

Dress codes

Employees should not be expected to behave a certain way based on gender stereotypes. Dress codes in the workplace can easily put employees in a box. While employers may have specific standards, a too-strict dress code creates boundaries for those who use clothing to express themselves, leading to decreased employee morale. 

Companies should not require gender-specific clothing. Instead, create high-level style guides and professional standards for employees who are interacting with the public.

Check out our frequently asked questions about employee dress codes and which rules may violate Title VII. 

Facilities

Making a gender-neutral restroom available is not unreasonable, but mandating that certain employees only use that designated facility is. Employees must be independently able to use the restroom(s) of their own choice, not by choice of their employer. 

Denying employee access to a restroom based on their gender identity is discriminatory and violates the employee’s right to a safe workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Find best practices here.

An employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of sex, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on employees of a particular sex. There are many opportunities for employers to reevaluate their employment policies. Be sure to ask your Nextep HR business partner if you are unsure about the procedures you have in place today.

Check out our post for more information about how to navigate transgender rights when it comes to which bathroom to use at work.

Nextep’s HR team is currently making revisions to our handbook policies to include language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For guidance on ensuring a safe and discrimination-free workplace, contact your HR business partner or give us a call at 888.811.5150.

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