According to recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics , women make up 46.7 percent of the workforce. This is not surprising since it is an accepted fact that women are a vital part of the country’s economic engine. Yet, in spite of all of the career gains women have made over the past 40 years, there still remains a persistent problem for women when it comes to workplace discrimination.
Inequalities Still Exist
Most everyone agrees that any person should be treated fairly on the job regardless of gender. In fact, laws like Affirmative Action prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender and national origin. Unfortunately, when it comes to women, there still seems to be remnants of the “old boys club” mentality that can make the workplace very uncomfortable for some women.
Sexual Harassment Still Happens Too Frequently
A recent case reported by NBC News illustrates this point. A woman who worked for a company in Atlanta called Waffle House filed a police complaint against her boss. The complaint states that she was allegedly subjected to 10 years of sexual harassment. Among the behavior she had to put up with was unwanted touching of her breasts, lewd comments and attempts to disrobe her. She tolerated these grossly offensive and disrespectful acts towards her person because she really needed to keep her job. She was unable to find a suitable replacement job that offered the same pay. However, as soon as her child received a full college scholarship, she felt free to resign and file the police report.
This type of over the top sexual harassment is one of those silent types of discrimination that happens way too often. Many women are afraid to come forward in fear of losing that much needed job. Hopefully, as more of these cases get publicized, more women will find the courage to come out of the shadows and file formal complaints.
Another egregious form of workplace discrimination that is far more commonplace is pay inequality. Even though many women are educated, savvy, and hardworking, across all employment sectors women get the short end of the stick when it comes earning what they’re worth. According to a recent article in USA Today , the current pay gap between American women and their male counterparts is still evident. Women make about 82.2% of the wages that men receive. This includes college-educated women.
Standing Up for Equal Pay
Lilly Ledbetter is very familiar with the unfairness of wages for women. She spent years fighting her own personal battle with the court system to receive wages she rightfully earned. While her equal pay case against her employer went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, she ended up losing. However, her cause was taken up by Congress, and in 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This law provides stronger protections for women to get paid for doing the same job as men.
Pay inequality continues to be a nagging thorn in the side of the economic recovery. When women get paid less, they have less money to contribute to purchasing goods and services. The laws are on the books to right this wrong. Now there just needs to be stronger enforcement.
Overall, when it comes to workplace discrimination issues, women do not have to suffer in silence. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with protecting the rights of women in gaining fair treatment. A formal complaint can be filed with the EEOC and they will launch an investigation into the allegations. A lawsuit can also be filed against the employer. Increasingly, organizations such as WAGE are leading the way in helping women become proactive in conquering inequalities. A certified discrimination lawyer can also help women who feel they have been unfairly treated in the workplace.