_Workplace discrimination ■ ■ ■
As defined by law, many types of discrimination are illegal in the workplace. Gender discrimination is still so pervasive in the workplace that it has its own category.
- Sexual harassment is also a type of gender discrimination, according to Title VII. Harassment can consist of any kind of behavior from sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal or sexual conduct that implies that sexual conduct is a condition of employment or a basis for employment decisions, interferes with work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency responsible for implementing this law. It investigates discrimination allegations, educates about discrimination, and works with federal government agencies.
What to do:
If you have been discriminated against or harassed in your workplace, you have legal options, but you need to act quickly. It helps to write everything down--if it's harassment, record when and where it happened and who was involved. If it's discrimination, find out as much as you can to strengthen your case. Either way, speak with other women at your workplace to find out if they've had the same kind of problems.
Once you've gathered your information, speak with your supervisor (or go above his/her head if necessary) to see if they can handle the situation at work. If not, you have to file your claim within 180 days of the incident. Contact your nearest EEOC office first. They'll request some basic information about you and your employer (name, address, phone number, number of employees) as well as a description of the incident. The EEOC usually tries to deal with the issue out of court, but if that doesn't work, you'll receive a right-to-sue notice from the EEOC. Then you can contact a lawyer, but you only have 90 days to file your suit. In addition, most state governments have their own anti-discrimination laws and enforcement agencies.
When Nancy Hopkins joined the faculty at MIT, she thought the days of gender discrimination were over. But soon she noticed women were completely ignored in faculty meetings. Two decades later, she requested 200 extra square feet of space to do research. Her request was denied repeatedly. Men, on the other hand, had double the amount of research space she did. She talked to her female colleagues, and realized they dealt with the same problems she did. And out of 219 tenured professors, only 15 were women.
With full support from the administration, Hopkins formed an investigative committee. When MIT published the report two years later, the report got national and international attention. In the light of this report, MIT took several measures to ensure the equality of women at the school.
-from Getting Even by Evelyn Murphy (Touchstone)