Can My Boss Single Me Out Based Upon My Gender?

Gender discrimination occurs when your employer treats you differently because of your sex, male or female.

Here are questions that need to be asked and answered to help you decide if you have a potential case against the employer.

1. Do federal employment laws apply to the employer in question?

- Federal employment laws apply to any employer with 15 or more employees.

2. Can my employer pay me less or provide me less benefits based on my sex?

- No. There are two separate Federal laws directed to the equalization of pay/benefits based on sex. All things being equal, genders shall be compensated an equivalent amount for the substantially same job.

3. Can my employer treat me differently because I have children?

- As with marital status, having children is not a federally protected status. However, if you are denied certain opportunities because it is assumed you would not want to participate due to having children, you may have a gender discrimination claim (gender stereotyping). For example, a woman with children may not be asked to participate in an after work gathering because she has children to care for, but her male counterpart with children would be asked to participate as the social stigma of getting home to care for the children is not attached to him.

4. Is it EVER okay for an employer to not hire me because of my sex?

- This is only acceptable in very limited circumstances. In fact, the only accepted circumstance is when there is a "bona fide occupational qualification" necessary for the job. This typically would present itself in circumstances in which same sex employees are needed in correctional facilities, etc.

5. Can my employer make me dress in masculine or feminine clothing?

- Your employer has the right to enforce dress codes in the work place, as long as the dress codes apply to all employees equally; such as, all employees may have to dress "professionally" or suitable to the customs of the profession. Your employer may direct all employees to wear ties and all females to wear dresses, for example. However, your employer cannot dictate that all women dress in a "sexy" uniform without requiring male employees to do the same.


Kelly Masters is an Associate Attorney in Humble Law’s Birmingham office. She represents employees whose rights have been violated and individuals who have been charged in criminal matters. She can be reached via email at or by phone at 205.358.3100.

Click here to view Kelly's Bio.

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