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Sterling Employment Law

Understanding sex-based workplace discrimination

Workplace discrimination due to sex or gender may not be an unfamiliar experience for some residents of Detroit, Michigan. A job applicant or an employee treated unfavorably due to gender or sex may have experienced a case of sex discrimination. Similarly, less favorable treatment of an employee because of any association or affiliation with an organization or group of people of a certain sex is prohibited. Discrimination can also be experienced due to gender identity, such a transgender employee.

Sex-based discrimination charges may be brought by heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals, and the charges may include allegations of sexual harassment or any other discrimination resulting from that person's sexual orientation.

Michigan law prohibits any form of sex- or gender-based workplace discrimination, which may include hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, benefits and any other aspect of employment. Sexual harassment charges can be brought if a person complains of sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, offensive remarks about anyone's sexual identity and verbal or physical harassment. Even a general comment about a group defined by a specific gender that can be offensive can lead to charges of harassment and may be illegal.

Both the victim and harasser can be of different genders or the same gender. In general, simple teasing does not amount to harassment, but the situation can become urgent if the practice becomes frequent and creates a hostile work environment or results in adverse employment decisions. The harasser can be a supervisor of the victim or colleague, or often even someone not employed with the organization, such as a customer or a client.

Sex-based discrimination is a serious issue and should be immediately reported to management. While many cases are resolved after filing a complaint, there are a significant number of cases where the victim of discrimination faces retaliation.

Source: EEOC.gov, "Sex-Based Discrimination," Accessed on May 21, 2015

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