Co-Written by Outten & Golden LLP Law Clerk Ryan Elias
Gender equality in the workplace and eliminating the gender pay gap are hot topics in the news, with some large brands capitalizing on the discussion to attract female consumers. Using flashy ads, social media campaigns, and press releases, companies say that they're committed to making meaningful cultural changes in their workplaces.
Women often find themselves in a workplace culture dominated by traditionally male values, approaches to work, and ways of measuring success. To be included, accepted and advanced, women in a wide variety of professions, including finance, technology, medicine, and the law, must walk a fine line between seeking acceptance and ensuring equal treatment.
Donald Trump makes us cringe, but like a stopped clock, he's right once in a while. He says a woman who experiences workplace sexual harassment should find another job, or even another career. All too often, that is exactly what happens. Allow us to explain.
The U.S. trucking industry is a paradox. With a growing shortage of drivers, trucking companies desperately need to put more people behind the wheel. At the same time, an increasing number of women are looking to enter the industry, eager for the opportunity. Instead of being welcomed, however, many encounter a hostile work environment, including egregious sexual harassment.
We have learned a lot in the few short days since Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor, filed her lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. While the allegations underlying the lawsuit may not be particularly surprising to anyone who knew anything about Ailes or the culture of Fox News, the fact that a lawsuit was filed, and the way it was filed, demonstrates remarkable legal ingenuity and personal bravery. The Carlson lawsuit underscores just how high the chips are stacked against women coming forward to report harassment and discrimination, but also may give us a roadmap to even those odds.
Challenges for women working in tech are very real. Though the pay gap may be less in the tech industry than other sectors (the New York Times reported that women in tech earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by men - as compared with the American average of 79 cents on the dollar), women in tech are by no means better off.
In a move fitting of her determined "House of Cards" character, actress Robin Wright demanded that she be paid the same salary as her co-star Kevin Spacey - or else she would go public with news of the disparity. Ms. Wright revealed the details of her ultimatum during a Rockefeller Foundation event on Tuesday, later reported by the Huffington Post.
Major shifts in gender equality jurisprudence in recent years have led to expanded rights and benefits for LGBTQ employees. The Section devoted two panels at the Section Conference to the rapidly developing areas of anti-discrimination law, employee benefits, and sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. The scope of civil rights protections for LGBTQ employees under Title VII generated the most discussion in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and the EEOC's decision in Baldwin v. Foxx (EEOC 2015). In Obergefell, the Court held that the 14th Amendment guarantees all couples, straight or gay, the fundamental right to marry under a due process analysis, although Justice Kennedy noted that the ruling derived in part from the Equal Protection clause.
Outten & Golden LLP associate Nina Frank discusses the ways women are blamed and marginalized at work for everything from the way they talk to the way they dress. Ms. Frank suggests that women are harassed, ignored, and underpaid not because of any action or omission on their part, but as a result of a sexist system that touts its progress but has not initiated much meaningful change. For the full text of the article, click here.