Overcoming Gender Discrimination in Tennessee

If you suspect gender discrimination at your workplace in Tennessee, it’s critical to identify it and know your rights. Working against both men and women, gender discrimination encompasses unequal treatment, restricted opportunities, and impacts both emotional wellbeing and career advancement. This article sheds light on the dynamics of gender discrimination and guides you through the legal measures in Tennessee designed to protect and empower you to stand against such injustices.

Key Takeaways

  • Gender discrimination in the workplace includes overt actions such as denying jobs or promotions based on gender, as well as covert microaggressions that undermine confidence and enforce traditional roles.
  • Legal protections against gender discrimination are robust, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act, which require workplaces to be free of sex-based hostility and ensure equal pay.
  • Gender discrimination has far-reaching effects, causing emotional distress, mental health impacts, and professional setbacks like the persistent gender pay gap and lack of advancement opportunities.

Understanding Gender Discrimination in the Modern Workplace

Workplace discrimination is a reality that many professionals, particularly those identifying as women, non-binary, or transgender, face in their careers. Overt gender discrimination takes shape through actions like not hiring someone or assigning lower-paying positions due to gender identity or sexual orientation. It rears its head when individuals are refused promotions, pay raises, or training opportunities because of their gender identity.

Additionally, gender discrimination includes instances where employees face penalties for behaviors that are accepted from individuals of a different gender. This bias goes beyond the obvious – it lurks in the shadows as well, as subtle forms of discrimination. Harsher evaluations or different professional standards based on gender identity are just the tip of the iceberg. Discrimination can manifest through unintentional biases or policies that adversely affect conditions of employment. These can encompass job responsibilities or work hours based on gender.

Recognizing Subtle Forms of Discrimination

Often disguised as harmless behavior, subtle forms of discrimination, or microaggressions, can be considerably damaging. But, like tiny drops of water wearing down a stone, they chip away at the confidence and self-worth of individuals from marginalized gender groups. Various forms of sexism, including:

  • Hostile sexism
  • Benevolent sexism
  • Ambivalent sexism
  • Institutional sexism
  • Interpersonal sexism
  • Internalized sexism

often underlie these microaggressions, contributing to a toxic work environment.

Microaggressions can lead to imposter syndrome among women and members of minority gender groups, causing them to question their qualifications and capabilities. Ironically, even seemingly positive traits assigned to women through benevolent sexism can frame them as weaker, limiting their agency and creating a basis for subtle discrimination. Ambivalent sexism, a blend of both benevolent and hostile sexism, leads to fluctuating perceptions of women, depending on their adherence to traditionally feminine behaviors. Internalized sexism can trigger feelings of incompetence and self-doubt, especially among women in STEM fields, hindering their progress. Some key points to remember are:

  • Microaggressions can lead to imposter syndrome
  • Benevolent sexism can limit agency and create subtle discrimination
  • Ambivalent sexism leads to fluctuating perceptions of women
  • Internalized sexism can trigger feelings of incompetence and self-doubt

Direct vs. Indirect Discrimination

Discrimination is not always explicit or easily identifiable. It can be direct, involving intentional bias, or it can be indirect, arising from apparently neutral policies or practices. Indirect discrimination is when policies, practices, or procedures that seem neutral disproportionately impact certain groups. For instance, a company policy requiring all employees to work specific hours may inadvertently disadvantage those with caregiving responsibilities, often affecting women more.

Patterns suggesting indirect discrimination include a consistent preference for certain groups during promotions or the assignment of less challenging work to others based on gender. Employers should regularly review recruitment and hiring practices, performance evaluation systems, and employee benefits programs to prevent such discrimination. It is crucial for employers to ensure their policies and practices are fair and do not inadvertently exclude or harm workers of a particular gender identity.

Sexual Harassment as Gender Discrimination

Sexual harassment, a form of workplace harassment, frequently co-exists with gender discrimination. In Tennessee, sexual harassment is defined as any unequal treatment of an employee based on gender, with quid pro quo and hostile work environment being the two main recognized types. This extends to same-sex harassment and harassment not motivated by sexual desire but by gender stereotypes.

A form of sex-based harassment, gender harassment emphasizes unwelcome conduct like slurs, physical threats based on sex, and unwelcome sexual advances. Often, it is associated with enforcing traditional gender roles or expressing hostility toward those who defy these roles. Unlawful harassment, such as this, can have serious consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator.

The spectrum of behaviors of a sexual nature ranges from verbal comments and unwanted sexual advances to severe physical sexual violence, which includes actions like rape or sexual assault. In some cases, individuals may also be coerced into providing sexual favors, further complicating the issue. With the rise in awareness, more people are coming forward with their sexual harassment claims.

The battle against gender discrimination in the workplace is supported by a robust legal framework. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination in employment and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation-based hostility, and it forbids retaliation against employees who engage in reporting or opposing discriminatory practices.

In addition to federal laws, the Tennessee Human Rights Act extends protections against employment discrimination based on sex, including pregnancy and medical conditions related to childbirth, to workplaces with eight or more employees. However, gender discrimination complaints in Tennessee must be filed within 180 days of the incident with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, which requires specific documentation for assessment.

Role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

In the fight against workplace discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is instrumental, enforcing federal laws against both gender discrimination and sexual harassment. When a gender discrimination or sexual harassment charge is received, the EEOC promptly notifies the accused organization and may provide access to a digital portal for managing the charge.

The EEOC’s investigation process may involve:

  • A request for the employer’s statement of position
  • Accessing policies and personnel files
  • Conducting on-site visits
  • Interviewing employees

Individuals experiencing sexual harassment can file a claim with the EEOC, but it’s essential to be aware of the 180 or 300-day deadlines for filing complaints, depending on the state.

Understanding the Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act serves as a cornerstone in the legislative battle against gender discrimination. It mandates that employers provide equal pay to male and female employees for doing substantially the same work at the same workplace. Equal work is defined as jobs requiring equivalent skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.

Employers are prohibited from reducing the wages of either sex to comply with the Equal Pay Act. Instead, they’re required to raise the wages of the lower paid sex to ensure pay equality. Legitimate wage differences are permissible under the Equal Pay Act when they’re based on systems of:

  • seniority
  • merit
  • quantity or quality of production
  • any factor other than sex.

The Tennessee Equal Pay Act complements the federal Equal Pay Act by similarly requiring equal pay for women and men performing comparable work at the state level.

The Impact of Gender Discrimination on Employees

Gender discrimination’s impact reaches far beyond the confines of the workplace, affecting employees on emotional, mental, and financial levels. Manifestations such as:

can lead to significant emotional distress for affected employees.

Pregnancy discrimination, for instance, can hinder women’s career progression by not providing equal rights enjoyed by other employees, akin to short-term disabilities.

Emotional and Psychological Consequences

The emotional and psychological consequences of gender discrimination are profound. Perceived gender discrimination is associated with higher depression scores among women. Studies reveal a correlation between gender discrimination and depression, suggesting these experiences negatively impact women’s mental health.

The World Health Organization acknowledges that gender-based social and economic inequalities, such as lower rates of schooling and employment, contribute to mental health disparities that particularly disadvantage women. Therefore, addressing both overt and subtle forms of gender discrimination is essential for improving mental health outcomes among women.

Professional and Financial Repercussions

Gender discrimination has a significant impact on an individual’s professional trajectory and financial stability. Some of the effects of gender discrimination include:

  • The gender pay gap persists, with women earning an average of $0.82 for every $1.00 a man earns.
  • Institutionalized gender discrimination leads to a lack of gender diversity in leadership roles.
  • There is a persistent gender pay gap within organizations.

These effects highlight the need for continued efforts to address and eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace.

Minority women face even greater wage disparities, typically earning $0.55 for every dollar earned by a male counterpart. Highly educated women, including those with MBAs, experience a larger pay gap when compared to men with similar qualifications.

Moreover, women over the age of 45 are likely to see the gender pay gap widen, affecting their earnings and promotion to higher-paying senior roles.

Reporting and Addressing Gender Discrimination

To challenge and initiate change against discriminatory practices, reporting and confronting gender discrimination is a crucial step. Employees are protected from sexual harassment and non-sexual conduct based on gender under the laws enforced by the EEOC, including protection from retaliation for complaints about sex discrimination. Victims of sexual harassment are often advised to tell the perpetrator(s) to stop if they feel safe doing so and to document all incidents, including details of the harassment, any witnesses, and its impact.

Formal reporting of sexual harassment should follow these steps:

  1. Follow company anti-sexual harassment policies.
  2. Submit a written complaint to a supervisor or HR department.
  3. Consult with an employment law attorney for guidance.
  4. File a complaint with the EEOC or a state agency before pursuing legal action.

Reporting sexual harassment and taking action against it is important not just for the victim but also to prevent sexual harassment from affecting others who may be subjected to similar treatment.

Steps to Take When Facing Discrimination

While confronting discrimination can be overwhelming, being aware of the necessary steps can empower victims. It’s vital to:

  1. Document all incidents of discrimination with detailed records, including dates, descriptions, and any witnesses, to support any future claims.
  2. Review the employer’s anti-discrimination policies and follow their procedures to report any discrimination in writing to Human Resources.
  3. Always remember to keep personal copies of all correspondence.

Once the internal reporting is done, it’s time to seek legal counsel. An employment law attorney can help with:

  • Understanding your rights
  • Assisting with filing formal complaints with enforcement agencies like the EEOC
  • Guiding you through legal protocols and deadlines.

For victims of gender discrimination, it’s comforting to know they are not alone – there are legal avenues available to seek justice. It’s important to consult with an employment lawyer to fully understand your rights and the legal options available to you.

Legal action for gender discrimination can include claims for fair compensation such as back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and coverage of attorneys’ fees.

Filing a Complaint with the EEOC: What to Expect

Submitting a complaint with the EEOC is a significant step in the pursuit of justice for gender discrimination, but understanding the process is equally important. After assessing a discrimination claim, the EEOC may determine no reasonable cause exists and issue a Dismissal and Notice of Rights, enabling the charging party to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days. An EEOC lawyer can help you submit the complaint to make sure everything is done correctly.

If the EEOC finds reasonable cause, it will issue a Letter of Determination and invite parties to resolve the charge through conciliation. If this process fails, the EEOC may file a lawsuit, or the charging party may receive a Notice of Right to Sue to file a lawsuit within 90 days.

In constructing a prima facie case of indirect discrimination, our firm assists clients by demonstrating they are part of a protected class, faced adverse employment action, and rebutting employer justifications as non-biased.

How Our Law Firm Champions Your Rights

Our law firm is committed to standing up for victims of gender discrimination and advocating for their fair treatment. We provide comprehensive legal services for victims of gender discrimination, including the filing of complaints with the EEOC. Our aggressive approach in pursuing justice for our clients, with a strong emphasis on sexual harassment and Title IX cases, is what sets us apart.

Confidential Consultation and Representation

We understand the importance of privacy and confidentiality in these sensitive matters. Our law firm offers private and confidential consultations for victims of sex and gender discrimination.


In conclusion, gender discrimination, in all its forms, is a significant issue in the modern workplace. Understanding its various facets, from overt actions to subtle biases, is the first step in overcoming it. Laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act provide a robust legal framework to fight against gender discrimination. The impact of gender discrimination is vast, affecting the emotional, psychological, professional, and financial aspects of an individual’s life. Reporting and addressing discrimination is crucial, and legal recourse is available for victims seeking justice. Our law firm is committed to championing the rights of victims and providing comprehensive, confidential legal services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is being discriminated against because of gender?

Gender discrimination can take various forms, such as treating someone unfavorably due to their gender, including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy. This can be seen in instances like criticizing a woman for being “aggressive” while praising men for the same behavior, and limiting access to all-gender restrooms.

What are examples of gender harassment?

Examples of gender harassment include asking for sex in exchange for a benefit, unwanted touching, and using sex-specific derogatory names. These behaviors are considered forms of sexual and gender-based harassment, and it’s important to stop them.

How to solve gender discrimination?

To solve gender discrimination, we can work on ensuring equal access to education, empowering women in the workplace, protecting reproductive rights, strengthening legal protections, providing better medical care, achieving better political representation, and prioritizing the most marginalized. Let’s work together to make sure everyone is treated equally.

What are the 5 areas in which gender discrimination occur in our society?

Gender discrimination occurs in various aspects of life, such as marriage and family, employment, education, culture, religion, and sport, despite federal laws prohibiting such behavior. It affects areas like education, employment, earnings, retirement, health, and violence.

What is considered gender discrimination in the workplace?

Gender discrimination in the workplace includes actions such as not hiring, assigning lower-paying positions, refusing to promote or provide training opportunities based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and imposing gender-based disciplinary actions. It is important to address and eliminate these discriminatory behaviors to create a more inclusive work environment.

Schedule Your Free Strategy Session

By submitting, you agree to receive sms, calls, and emails.

Have a quick question? Call or Text us!


You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers.

Here are some answers to some of the most popular questions regarding gender discrimination

  • What are examples of gender discrimination in the workplace?

    Gender discrimination in the workplace can take the form of failure to promote, unfair treatment, lower wages, less demanding assignments, and reduced support based on gender. It is important to address these illegal practices.
  • How do you deal with gender discrimination in the workplace?

    You can deal with gender discrimination in the workplace by reviewing your employer's policies, documenting incidents, reporting concerns to HR or your boss, and seeking support from your union or a lawyer if necessary. It's important to be proactive and advocate for your rights in the workplace.
  • What are the civil rights for gender?

    The civil rights for gender include protection from discrimination in employment, encompassing sexual orientation and gender identity, as stated in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibition on discrimination covers various aspects such as recruitment, promotions, pay, and benefits.
  • How can gender discrimination lawyers help victims?

    Gender discrimination lawyers can assist victims by providing guidance on their rights, navigating legal proceedings, and advocating for their rights in a strategic manner. This support helps victims understand and address the complexity of their situation.
Let's make a
Badass Strategy
for you.

Busy now? Schedule a talk for later. Feeling chatty? Call Andi.


Wait... There’s more.

We’ve written numerous blog posts about Tennessee Employment Law 


If you’re pregnant and employed, knowing your rights under the Pregnancy and…


Experiencing pushback at work after reporting an issue? You’re likely encountering retaliation…

Your first session is on us, so let’s get to it.

By submitting, you agree to receive sms, calls, and emails.

Have a quick question? Call or Text us!

Your first session is on us, so let’s get to it.

By submitting, you agree to receive sms, calls, and emails.

Have a quick question? Call or Text us!

Your first session is on us, so let’s get to it.

By submitting, you agree to receive sms, calls, and emails.

Have a quick question? Call or Text us!