Eight Laws That Protect Women in the Workplace

Despite making numerous gains in the last 30 years, women still face significant challenges in the workplace. At Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP, we believe that all women should have equal access to employment. Women should also be able to work free from ​gender discrimination​.

At our law firm, we focus on representing women who have suffered injuries due to illegal discrimination in the workplace. Many of our cases focus on enforcing the following laws, which were enacted to protect women in the workplace. If you have faced discrimination in the workplace, our law firm can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

The ​Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978​ explicitly prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical conditions. Many states have followed suit and have enacted their own state-level versions of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. In addition to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the ADA also prohibits employers from discriminating based on disabilities, including complications that can arise during pregnancy. In other words, if you are pregnant, your employer cannot treat you differently or discriminate against you based on your pregnancy.

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) went into effect in 2009 in order to broaden the scope of people who could find legal protections under the law. Legislators grew concerned that courts were misinterpreting the ADA, and that consequently, those who were meant to be protected under the Act were not. The ADAAA was put into effect to balance the playing field for both employers and employees.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII​ of the federal Civil Rights Act is one of the most important laws protecting women from discrimination in the workplace. Passed 56 years ago, this law opened up significant workplace opportunities for women. Specifically, Title VII makes employment discrimination on the basis of sex, national origin, color, and religion illegal. Title VII makes it illegal for employers to advertise for male applicants only. It also outlawed the practice of employers using weight and height to prevent women from seeking jobs that have been traditionally held by men.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Congress passed the ​Family Medical Leave Act​ (FMLA) over 30 years after they passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Congress passed the FMLA in 1993 hoping to address discrimination against women who become pregnant and give birth. The “self-care” provision of the FMLA allows employees who are eligible to use up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off every year to recover from serious health conditions.

This means that women are able to use up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave each year to recover from pregnancy or childbirth. Importantly, employers cannot terminate the position of an employee who uses unpaid leave under the FMLA. Mothers can also use up to 12 weeks to care for a new baby or an ill family member. While the FMLA is gender-neutral, meaning men can also use unpaid leave to recover from serious medical conditions, the FMLA has been especially useful for protecting women’s rights in the workplace.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938. This law has helped many women earn a living wage. More women than men are paid a minimum wage. By ensuring that the minimum wage increases along with the cost of living, the FLSA has helped women who are the primary wage earners in their families better provide for their families. Many people contend that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour needs to increase, especially for women working in high-cost cities, such as New York, California, and the District of Columbia.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

Many Americans struggle to pay their health insurance premiums. When a woman loses her job, the shock of losing health insurance can be greatly distressing. COBRA is a law that allows employees to replace their employer-covered health insurance with marketplace insurance. The law lets you keep your same employer-based health insurance for up to 18 months.

When pregnant women lose their jobs, they have the ability to extend their health care coverage for up to 18 months. Childbirth without health insurance can cost up to $71,00 for a ​caesarian section​. Using COBRA allows women to maintain their health insurance coverage and avoid going into serious debt from giving birth, or from any other serious medical conditions.

Additionally, women have stayed in low-paying jobs and do not seek promotions because they are worried about their children losing health care benefits. Protecting the ability to keep health insurance benefits will allow women to be more mobile and change careers more freely.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963

The Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination based on sex in how employers pay wages. Signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, the law seeks to prevent sex discrimination. Under the EPA, employers must pay men and women the same wages when the jobs are substantially equal in terms of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.

For example, when a male and female employee are both working as retail clerks and their jobs are substantially similar, the employer must pay them equally. Women who wish to file a claim under the EPA need to prove that their job is comparable to a male employer’s job and that their employer is paying them less. There are several exceptions to the mandate of equal pay between men and women, but this law is a starting point to protect female wages.

The Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act protects employees from retaliation for reporting their employers for workplace safety violations. For example, should a female employee report her employer for continuing to have unsafe working conditions? This law prevents a whistleblower’s employer from firing, disciplining, demoting, making threats, or taking any other adverse action against the employee.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994

This law makes sure that veterans who serve their country can retain their civilian jobs and job-related benefits. It also ensures that veterans are free from discrimination based on their service in the armed forces. Finally, it ensures that employers make reasonable efforts to accommodate veterans with disabilities.

Contact Our New York Women’s Rights Employment Lawyers Today

If you are facing employment discrimination in New York, Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP is here to help. We focus our practice on fighting for women’s rights in the workplace and we will fight hard for you. ​Contact​ us today to schedule your initial consultation.