Five Potential Signs of Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination is one of the most common kinds of discrimination faced by employees in the workplace, but it is also one that often takes a variety of different forms. While most people know to look for issues like non-consensual physical contact or the use of gendered slurs towards women, other sex discrimination issues can easily go unnoticed. Look for these five signs of potential sex discrimination at your workplace:

  1. Discrepancies in wages or benefits
    1. One of the most common ways that sex discrimination manifests can also be one of the most difficult ways to discover: a female worker being paid less, or receiving fewer benefits, for doing their job than a male counterpart. One reason this can be difficult to identify is people’s pay can change for many reasons, including their level of experience, their professional qualifications, and any disciplinary measures they have faced. Another reason is that people often feel uncomfortable discussing their pay with their coworkers, making it harder to identify these discrepancies. However, if you suspect there may be sex discrimination at your workplace, wages and benefits are one useful place to look.
  2. Getting passed over for raises or promotions
    1. Related to the first issue, many people who suffer from sex discrimination may start being paid the same as their male counterparts, only to be passed over for raises or promotions. While this may be excusable in individual instances due to the performance of certain employees, it can become more clear when the women in a company are primarily found among its lower ranks, while management and executive positions are dominated by men. If you see this kind of discrepancy in who gets promoted, it may be a sign of sex discrimination.
  3. Disproportionate or inconsistent punishments
    1. Another place sex discrimination can appear is in how a company handles discipline for its employees’ missteps. For example, a male employee might get an informal warning for a violation of company policy, while a female employee might get a formal write-up for the same error. This sort of inconsistent enforcement of company policy can not only cause disproportionate harm to women, but it can also act as a justification for future discriminatory acts such as curtailing their pay, reducing their benefits or firing them.
  4. Not making allowances for medical or family issues
    1. Sex discrimination can also manifest in how an employer handles family or medical issues that arise during the course of work. This may include not allowing women to leave early to go to doctor’s appointments or to pick up children from after-school activities, or refusing to make concessions for feminine health issues like those related to menstruation or menopause. If men can get leeway for their medical or family problems but women cannot, that is a good sign you may be dealing with sex discrimination.
  5. Behavior at after-work events
    1. This can be a bit harder to tell, because many people consider after-work meetups to be outside the scope of work, but often these meetups can have a substantial impact on the workplace. For example, many managers or executives are more likely to offer raises or promotions to people they see after work, which can be an issue if they are meeting at seedy nightclubs, strip bars, or other places where women might feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If women need to put themselves in uncomfortable situations like this to get ahead, that can be a good sign you have a sex discrimination issue at your workplace.


If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 39 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.

One thought on “Five Potential Signs of Sex Discrimination”

  1. I liked that you pointed out that if you keep getting passed over for a promotion it could be a sign of discrimination. It does seem like a good idea to talk to an employment lawyer if you suspect that. I know that I wouldn’t know what the next step should be.

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