Society has progressed since the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. Today, more women are attending law school, passing the bar, running for political office, and owning businesses. Policies calling for equality for women were implemented not that long ago and, to move forward, it is important to know these regulations and their effect on women. Only through awareness can we discover how to achieve better because knowledge is power.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 employees or more to provide women with time and space to pump breast milk at work. Though it only covers women who have “non-exempt” status, it is a crucial step in recognizing some of the unique needs of mothers in the workforce. 

Optimistically, this Act is a push in the right direction and will influence more employers to provide a supportive work environment for women. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) (FMLA)

Public agencies and companies with at least 50 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following events:

  • The birth and care of an employee’s newborn, adopted, or foster child;
  • Care of immediate family members due to a serious medical condition; and
  • The employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for this benefit if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have worked for a minimum of 1,250 service hours.

The FMLA is an important legislative action for women because it guarantees a job even after childbirth or caring for a family member. Before the Family and Medical Leave Act, women had to choose between their profession or family responsibilities and often, choosing to leave the workforce altogether was the end result. 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978) (PDA)

The PDA prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, assigning projects, promotions, insurance, and any other benefits. 

For many years, employers generally discriminated against women. Specifically, during the hiring process, recruiters saw pregnant women as unprofitable/unplaceable. Today, women have proved that they are as capable as their male counterparts in any professional field, with or without children, married or not. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) (Title VII)

Hailed as one of the most important laws for women, Title VII bans discrimination in the workplace based on sex. Employers can no longer refuse to hire women for the sole reason of being a woman or create a hostile work environment for anyone. 

For example, employers must address sexual harassment claims promptly and diligently. If not, they can be liable for monetary damages to compensate the victim. In addition, the Act prohibits employers from refusing women promotions because they have children, from making stereotypical comments, or assigning projects based on sex. 

Title VII was passed 57 years ago, sadly, however, prejudice against women in the workplace still exists today. Armed with this protection, women (and men) should continue to speak up whenever they see any degree of discrimination in the workplace.

The Equal Pay Act (1963)

The Equal Pay Act requires corresponding compensation for the same work between men and women. Job description or content determines the compensation, not job titles. If there is any inequality in wages, employers may not reduce one employee’s earnings to equalize another. The Act covers all forms of pay including salary, per hour wages, overtime, bonuses, and all other benefits provided. 

Equal compensation has been an issue in both the public and private sectors. Though it may seem that the wage gap between men and women is decreasing, studies have shown a significant chasm still exists. In the legal profession, for example, women are paid at least $25,000 less a year than their male counterparts. Not only are women compensated less, but they are also less likely to be promoted and make partner than their male counterparts. 

With the new generation of professionals being more transparent when it comes to their salaries, women are more aware of disparities and are able to demand the proper compensation. 

Vitality Not Complacency

To move forward, we must be involved in the conversation. Women have shown capability, dependability, and leadership. One of the ways to reach equality, specifically in employment, is to be loud and proud of this advocacy: 

Stay Informed of Current Events

Stay connected with the latest news. Awareness of important policies, events, or political discourse locally or nationally will keep you informed. There is nothing more powerful than knowing your rights. 

Share Your Thoughts

Have courage and share your thoughts on a particular issue. If you have an idea to improve the work environment, to communicate and offer your solutions. Starting the conversation is a game-changer.

Participate In the Process

The laws and regulations mentioned above did not appear unexpectedly. The road for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality has been paved by strong women fighting fiercely. We can continue to positively affect change. Join a non-profit organization. Volunteer in your community. Attend City Council meetings or public events. Start your own social group! You have a voice and, together, we can accomplish more. 

We Are Here to Uplift You

Before the 19th Amendment, women could not even vote, let alone see other women own a business or hold an influential position. Today, women are leaders, problem-solvers, trailblazers. We must continue to uplift each other, stay informed of our rights, have the courage to speak our minds, and take part in the conversation to advance women’s rights. 

If you are experiencing any kind of discrimination in your workplace, we are here for you. Contact us at Uplift Law and let us start a conversation.

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