Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

5 Legal Tips to Avoid Sex Discrimination Lawsuits

Few, if any, small businesses set out and decide they will discriminate against their employees based on sex or gender. More often, discriminatory acts or policies are entrenched from outdated approaches or the behavior of a rogue employee. Still, sex discrimination in employment happens far too often, with employees paying the price first, then companies later when they are sued.

So here are a few legal updates and tips on avoiding or rectifying sex and gender discrimination at your small business, from our archives:

1. Is It Legal to Pay Some Employees Less Based on Salary History?

The gender pay gap has become a hot button issue from Main Street to Wall Street and back down Pennsylvania Avenue. And many argue that the wage gap persists due to employers asking and relying on salary history when hiring and giving raises -- if a woman was paid less than a man at her first job, she may earn less her entire career. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that employers can pay female employees less if the difference is based on salary histories, and some other conditions are met.

2. 3 Tips on How to Avoid Gender Bias in Performance Reviews

Speaking of raises, how do you make sure you're treating all of your employees equally when it comes time for quarterly or annual reviews? Make sure managers and those performing the reviews are trained to avoid implicit bias, take gender out of any performance measuring tool, and use a diverse group of reviewers, to start.

3. Is Your Employee Benefit Plan Up to Date With Same-Sex Marriage Laws?

If you're not providing same-sex spouses with the same benefits as heterosexual spouses, that's technically sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Department Labor Department recently advised that same-sex spouses are entitled to ERISA benefits as well as leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.

4. Transgender Workers Now a Protected Class, EEOC Rules

The Civil Rights Act also protects transgender employees, as it prohibits sex stereotyping, including those stereotypes based on gender norms.

5. Gay, Lesbian Employees Protected Under Civil Rights Act

Anti-discrimination protections aren't just for same-sex spouses -- the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits on sex discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.

To make sure your small business's people and policies are complying with anti-discrimination statutes and rulings, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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