Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is Sex Discrimination at Work?

This kind of discrimination occurs when a particular group of individuals receive treatment that have a negative bias and can be either direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is when a particular individual treats another disrespectfully purely from the gender perspective and indirect is when at the work place, a particular employer shows negative bias towards people of a specific gender and does not apply the same rules or accord facilities offered to others of a different gender.


While it is illegal to have any discrimination from the gender perspective, some exceptions are allowed which permits the employment of people of the same sex, as in the case of a nursing home managed by only men or women. Discrimination against a woman due to pregnancy or the fact that she has had to avail of maternity holidays is definitely against law and can be reported.

What is harassment and what is victimization?

One other form of gender harassment is the creation of a working atmosphere that affects the dignity and impinges on the pride of the individual based on gender. Similarly, when an employer accords harsh treatment to somebody who has already complained of such behavior in the past, it can be construed as victimization and can be reported by fellow employees with corroborative evidence.

What is the liability of the employer?

In an organization, if the employer is found to be ineffective in controlling situations of gender bias and unfavorable treatment to specific people, they become liable to provide justifications as to why they allowed it to happen and what action they propose to take to prevent recurrences. The affected individual can approach his immediate line manager and also the Tribunal for justice. Further steps to proceed legally can also be taken depending on the merits of the case. However, it is recommended to settle any issues within the company and take the legal route only if all options fail.

What about sexual harassment?

Though sexual harassment has been prevalent, it was not until the year 2005 that a specific section was incorporated into the Sexual Discrimination Act and under this, any action that violates a person's dignity through unsolicited sexual propositions, vulgar comments, getting subjected to display of pornography and lewd jokes as well as unsolicited comments on the outfit worn all constitute sexual harassment and it is the responsibility of the employer to prevent such instances from occurring at the work place through adequate safeguards and rules. You can also take direct action against such offenders by building up opinion against the offender by confiding in your close friends and your union. Telling the offender to quit such action is also well within your right and you can even give this to him in writing to put it on record.

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