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What is sex-based discrimination?

Sex-based employment discrimination is common throughout the world, even in the United States. At its most fundamental level, this discrimination involves the treatment of another person in an unfavorable way as a result of his or her sex. Fortunately, federal and state laws protect employees from this kind of discrimination and they can fight back if they've been victims of the behavior.

Here is some important information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding sex-based discrimination at work:

What sex-based discrimination is prohibited under the law?

Employers are forbidden under federal law from hiring, paying, giving job assignments, promoting, training, laying off, terminating and awarding benefits on the basis of sex. Furthermore, employers cannot harass employees because of their sex. Sex-based harassment also includes: sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, unwelcome requests to perform sexual favors and verbal comments or physical actions that are sexual in nature. Offensive remarks regarding someone's sex can also be considered sex-based discrimination.

Are women the only victims of sex-based harassment?

Women and men can both be the victims of sex-based harassment. Also, the perpetrator of the harassment could be a woman against a woman or a man against a man.

What about innocent teasing?

Offhand comments, simple teasing and isolated incidents might not qualify as sex-based harassment. Generally, the harassment must be frequent or severe and establish an offensive or toxic work environment.

Anyone who has suffered from workplace discrimination will have a lot of questions concerning their ability to potentially file a lawsuit. These kinds of cases can be difficult to prove in court, but with the right kind of evidence combined with the right legal strategy, an employee (or potential employee) who was harmed by discrimination may be able to prevail.

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