COVID-19 and Issues Faced by Women in the Workplace

Recently, CBSN New York reported that a study has found that one out of every four women have considered changing their careers or dropping out of the workforce because of the hardships imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women already face serious obstacles in the workplace. They may be dealing with unequal pay, pregnancy and caregiver discrimination, and sexual harassment. Challenges posed by COVID-19 add to an already disproportionate burden. If you are a woman who was harmed by workplace discrimination or harassment, you should consult the New York City employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates. Our tenacious attorneys understand how to help victims get the full scope of damages to which they are entitled.

How Women are Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

The CBSN article reported on a study that surveyed 40,000 people and collected information from over 300 businesses. The study found that the hardships incurred by the pandemic are causing one in four women to consider either leaving the workforce or changing careers. The figure is even higher for working mothers; one in three working mothers are considering these options during the pandemic. Many women do not have childcare or find it difficult to manage remote learning while also working during the pandemic. Some women have lost their jobs. Others have considered trying to find jobs in an industry that is pandemic-proof, rather than staying in the industry in which they already work. Although COVID-19 has been challenging for everybody, there are some issues that mostly women, and particularly mothers, have faced. Women who are marginalized by race or age face added challenges.

The study found that years of women’s progress in corporate America could be erased by the pandemic. It advises that companies change their practices to accommodate the hardships engendered by the pandemic and remember that businesses that are diverse, especially in the upper echelons, perform better than those that are not. Prior to the pandemic, the study had not found an attrition difference between women and men.

Below are some other issues specific to women in the workplace, for which they have legal protections.

Unequal Pay

Under the federal Equal Pay Act, men and women doing substantially equal work at a company are supposed to be given equal pay. What workers do on the job, rather than their job titles, dictates whether jobs are substantially equal. The federal law covers all forms of pay. Unlike some of the other federal anti-discrimination laws, if you are claiming a violation of the Equal Pay Act, you can file a lawsuit directly in court without filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first. The New York Equal Pay Act provides that no employee should be paid at a lesser wage rate than an employee of the opposite sex in the same workplace for equal work when the jobs demand equal responsibility, effort, and skill and require working under similar conditions. If you receive unequal pay in the workplace, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for damages.

Pregnancy and Caregiver Discrimination

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit pregnancy discrimination and certain kinds of caregiver discrimination. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits pregnancy discrimination by employers with at least 15 employees, amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act permits eligible employees of covered companies to take a job-protected leave to look after a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. State and local laws protect workers at smaller businesses. The New York State Human Rights Law also prohibits pregnancy discrimination. Under the New York State Paid Family Leave Law, you can get paid leave to care for a close relative with a serious health condition. The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits both pregnancy discrimination and caregiver discrimination. Under the city law, a caregiver is someone who provides ongoing, direct care for a minor child or care recipient, such as someone with a disability. Pregnant women and family caregivers who face discrimination or retaliation may be able to recover damages in a lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is prohibited under city, state, and federal laws in New York City. All employers in New York City, regardless of size, must provide a workplace free from sexual harassment under the city law. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that can involve unwelcome sexual advances, touching, groping, lewd remarks, graphics, memes, jokes, or pranks. Generally, federal and state courts categorize sexual harassment as quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment, but some conduct has features of both. The laws have slightly different nuances and definitions. It is important to talk to an experienced attorney about which law is most likely to allow you to recover the full scope of your damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Consult a Dedicated Employment Attorney in New York City

If you are a woman who has been affected by the pandemic, and you are also concerned about employment discrimination or harassment, you should call Phillips & Associates. We understand how stressful it is to face inequality in the workplace, especially when you are also reckoning with the challenges of the pandemic. We represent workers who have been mistreated at their jobs throughout New York City, as well as the surrounding counties and regions. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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