Discrimination in the workplace is still very common, despite numerous state and federal statutes that exist to protect workers from unfair treatment. Discrimination occurs when an individual is targeted because of his or her race, physical ability, sex, or another trait. If you believe that you have experienced discrimination because of your gender, a gender discrimination attorney can help you understand your rights and legal resources.

What Is the Most Common Type of Gender Discrimination?

Gender discrimination can impact both men and women, however, the majority of people who experience it are female. Several recent studies have found that as many as 40% of women in the workforce report being discriminated against.

What Does Workplace Discrimination Look Like?

Workplace discrimination has real-world consequences for individuals, including their ability to earn a fair salary and feel comfortable in their place of employment. Here are some examples of how women commonly experience discrimination while on the job:

Firing, Hiring, and Promoting

Firing an employee based on their gender is a particularly egregious form of discrimination. A woman might be fired because a male candidate became available for her job or because her boss believes that a woman is not fit for the position. For example, a woman might be fired from a role in senior management because of the belief that “women cannot be strong leaders.”

Similarly, a woman might be passed over for a promotion in favor of a man with less education and/or fewer qualifications. In a related scenario, the company might reject female applications for entry-level positions, bringing on male workers as new hires instead.

Access to Company Resources

Denying an employee the right to access company resources reserved for individuals of the other gender is another form of gender discrimination. For example, if the senior men at a company decide that the female employees cannot access the break room during certain hours to allow time for all-male discussions, the women would have strong grounds for a gender discrimination case.

Unequal Pay

One of the most common ways women experience discrimination is through unequal pay. When a woman is offered a smaller salary than a man with similar qualifications and the same level of experience, the reason for the disparity is often an underlying belief that the work women perform is inherently less valuable than the work of their male counterparts.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Women often experience workplace discrimination when they are pregnant. Firing pregnant employees, reducing their workloads, or asking them to take time off are all ways employers might express their negative bias or seek to maximize their bottom line at the expense of worker protection. Pregnancy discrimination can affect women who are not pregnant if their boss or manager mistakenly believes that they are. Similarly, a woman might receive unfair treatment because her employer believes that she intends to become pregnant.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment encompasses any behavior of a sexual nature that is uninvited. In the workplace, sexual harassment overlaps with gender discrimination because it creates a hostile environment and can make a woman’s employment status contingent on her willingness to submit to unwanted remarks or requests for favors. The types of behaviors that constitute sexual harassment include:

  • Jokes, teasing, and sexual comments
  • Photos, emails, or texts of a sexual nature
  • Touching and unwanted advances
  • Requests for sexual acts
  • Self-exposure


Harassment Based on Gender

Another type of harassment involves the expression of misogynist views in the workplace. For example, male employees at a company might circulate emails perpetuating stereotypes against women or habitually make derogatory statements. In an extreme form, this type of gender discrimination can even include threats of violence towards specific female employees or women in general.

Is Gender Discrimination Illegal?

In Missouri, it is illegal to discriminate against employees based on a number of traits, including sex. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, gender discrimination falls under the category of sex discrimination. An employer who discriminates against a female employee or fails to ensure a work environment that is free from harassment can be held liable for damages.

How Can You Prove that You Were Discriminated Against at Work?

Discrimination can occur in subtle ways, especially if the perpetrator is aware that his or her behavior is inappropriate. Many individuals in upper management go through both diversity training and programs designed to educate them on sexual harassment. The purpose of these courses is to avoid lawsuits against the company. If you were discriminated against at work, there is a good chance that your employer took steps to cover his or her tracks.

Given that it can be difficult to prove that discrimination occurred beyond a doubt, courts will accept circumstantial evidence in a gender discrimination case. Circumstantial evidence illustrates the likelihood that an event occurred as opposed to offering outright proof. Working with a gender discrimination attorney can give you important insights into what types of circumstantial evidence can be useful to you.

Company Records

Statistics relating to a company’s history of hiring employees and offering compensation packages can often point to discriminatory practices. For example, the company’s HR records might show that the average female employee is paid less than the average male employee. There might also be indicators that men are hired and/or promoted more frequently than women.


Witnesses can offer valuable testimonies, especially in cases that involve sexual harassment or misogyny in the workplace. If you know of any co-workers or other individuals who might speak on your behalf, be sure to get their contact information.

Correspondence Between You and Your Employer

Work-related communication that happens electronically can often be used as evidence in a discrimination case. Depending on the kind of gender discrimination you experienced, you may have:

  • Sexually inappropriate messages from your employer
  • Emails in which your employer makes negative statements about your work for gender-related reasons
  • Misogynist material that has circulated throughout the office
  • Questions regarding your pregnancy status

Official Documents Pertaining to Your Employment Status

If you choose to file a claim or a lawsuit against your employer, you will need to show your contract and official termination notice, if applicable. These documents can provide basic information, such as your rate of pay and the date you were hired. In order to show that you were passed over for a promotion or insufficiently compensated compared to other employees with similar qualifications, you may need to access other HR records, including performance reviews.

Get In Touch With a Gender Discrimination Attorney

Being discriminated against at work is an experience that no one should have to endure. While taking action against your employer cannot undo your sense of having been treated with a lack of respect, being compensated for your losses can give you a sense of closure while making the workplace a safer environment for others. During a free consultation with one of our attorneys, you can get more information on the legal process that is specific to gender discrimination cases.

We Will Fight for Your Rights

When you stand up to discrimination at the hands of an employer, you deserve top legal representation. To discuss your case with a qualified attorney who specializes in employment law and discrimination cases, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC.