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Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

Supreme Court to hear age discrimination-related case

Indiana is not one of the states under the jurisdiction of two appeals courts that ruled that age bias can play a part up to a point in employment decisions for federal employees, but an upcoming Supreme Court decision will have a nationwide impact. According to the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 only applies for federal employees if age bias is demonstrated to be the reason for not hiring someone, firing him or her or another adverse action as opposed to it being a factor.

However, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the intent of the ADEA was for age bias to not be a factor at all. The Supreme Court will make a definitive ruling about what kind of protection federal employees have in a case involving five Florida pharmacists older than 50 who claimed they were shut out of a higher-paying position with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Discrimination based on sex stereotyping

Many people in today's society have grown up and entered the workforce with laws in place that were supposed to protect people from discrimination and biased decisions related to certain protected classes, like a person's race or religious beliefs. Sex is another factor that is supposed to be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that went into effect in 1964. Despite this law, too many residents in Indiana and around the nation have continued to experience discriminatory behaviors in the workplace.

Some of the people who may be hurt by discrimination at work are transgender, gay or lesbian employees. There has been an ongoing debate for some time as to whether or not the 1964 law provides protections for these people. Some put forward the notion that Title VII's verbiage that refers to discrimination because of a person's sex extends coverage only to people who are male or female as per their birth certificates.

Identifying pregnancy discrimination in a job interview

Having a reliable salary while you’re pregnant can put your financial worries at ease, but it’s okay to pursue something new. Unfortunately, some interviewers may not welcome your pregnancy, which can lead to uncomfortable interview questions and might affect your chances of getting the job.

 

Age discrimination from an emotional angle

We have written extensively about many of the problems that come with discrimination, from financial hardships due to losing a job or being demoted to career problems. However, the emotional impact of workplace discrimination cannot be overstated, and this is especially true when it comes to discrimination based upon one's age. Far too many people have been treated unfairly solely because of their age, even though their ability to perform their job duties may surpass the performance of younger workers. Hopelessness, depression, anxiety and even anger are not uncommon for those who have suffered as a result of age discrimination, and these emotions can be debilitating.

There are many reasons why companies discriminate against workers based upon their age. Maybe they want to maintain a certain image in the workplace, or they are worried that older workers may carry a higher risk of being involved in a work-related accident or think that older workers are losing their ability to work as well (even though such fears may be completely unwarranted). It can be hard for older workers to find new jobs because of their age, which can add to the emotional strain one may experience after losing their job.

Examining if requirements to conform amount to discrimination

While there are different definitions of professionalism depending on who you ask, which industry is being considered and the environment of the workplace, there are general standards across the board that many business professionals see as crucial. While developing guidelines for acceptable behavior and appearance is important for many businesses in Indiana, they must be careful to ensure that these policies do not inhibit the right of employees to be themselves. 

One question that has some people reconsidering what is and is not acceptable is whether or not banning certain hairstyles from the workplace is, in fact, discriminating against certain races. Traditionally, African-American women have proudly shared some unique hairstyles that are true to their roots and their culture. However, more women feel pressure to conform to standards set by their employer and they end up straightening or taming their hair every day so as not to appear unprofessional or eccentric. 

Do women still make less than their male counterparts

With more media attention placed on gender equality in the workplace, it seems as though America should be advancing toward a more neutral workplace. Males and females should be treated fairly and equally. They should be given equal pay when they complete the same duties, and many people believe men and women are paid the same in all circumstances. Yet, gender discrimination still exists, and it shows in certain situations through how employees are paid by their employers.

The Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study showed that women in the medical profession were paid less when compared to their male counterparts. Even as researchers were careful to control for factors, including the type of setting worked in, subspecialties, geographic area, patient load and whether the medical professionals were married and/or had children, a substantial difference in salaries was reported. On average, female pediatricians made nearly $8,000 less a year when compared to male pediatricians who performed the same duties. Female doctors are also more likely to take care of duties at home, including cooking, caring for children and cleaning, according to the study. Before the factors were accounted for and the pay scales adjusted, female pediatricians made an annual salary of $177,000 while male pediatricians made $226,000. 

Black women still held back by bias in American workplaces

We’re deep into the 21st century. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is almost six decades old. In this year’s edition of the annual list of the world’s most admired women, Michelle Obama came out on top. Oprah Winfrey was second.

But a major new survey has found that black women fare better in public opinion polls and in federal legislation than they do in real American workplaces.

Examining the idea of protected classes

When talking about discrimination in Indiana work places, the term "protected class" often comes up. Although this typically refers to the categories listed in the state and federal civil rights legislation, people may also use it to talk about other forms of discrimination.

Generally speaking, employers are not supposed to make decisions based on an individual's membership in a protected class. Hiring, firing and compensation, for example, should all have a basis in performance or merit. If employers fail to comply with these rules, they could be liable for the damages they cause the targets of their discrimination.

What are some examples of age discrimination?

The workforce of today is completely different than what it consisted of years ago. While some people still choose to retire at a relatively early age, others are forced to work until they are much older. A number of Americans are unable to or have been unsuccessful at putting savings away in a retirement account, and with rising costs and living expenses, are forced to stay in the workforce in order to make ends meet. 

Although older workers possess a certain experience, wisdom and knowledge that they can bring to the table and improve many work situations, age discrimination happens across many U.S. industries. Age discrimination occurs when these older workers are treated differently based on their age. This discrimination is not limited to older workers, but younger workers can also be victims of age discrimination. Examples of age discrimination may include the following:

Men are victims of sex discrimination too

When people think of sexual harassment, they often think of women as the victims. However, this is not always the case. Men are also victims of harassment at the workplace and more males have come forward to report this offense. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 7,609 people filed sexual harassment reports in 2018. Approximately 15.9% of those claims were filed by males, a substantial increase from the 11% of claims that were filed in 1997. This number is thought to be even higher, however, as some men are too embarrassed or ashamed to report these types of incidents. 

Sexual discrimination can come in a number of forms, including unwanted sexual advances, comments or requests for sexual favors. Employees may be told they are not able to advance in their career if they do not submit to the advances or bribed with an incentive if they go along with the unwanted behavior. Men can be harassed by other male or female co-workers or managers. 

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