The difficulty with much discrimination in the workplace is that it is unconscious. Sure, there are shocking, blatant examples of women being forced to trade sexual favors for continued employment. And no one, expect perhaps the perpetrators, finds that acceptable or believes it should be permitted.
But those are the easy cases. The subtle discrimination cases are much more difficult, because many, including some judges and juries, may look upon the fact and dismiss them as not demonstrating “true” discrimination.
Women, in aggregate, still make less than most men and often face difficult hurdles to overcome in competing in the workplace. An aggressive man might be viewed as confident and commanding, ready for a leadership role. An aggressive woman is often seen as shrill and pushy. Studies have shown, even when the conduct is the same, the actor can alter the view of the action.
And this is why if you have suffered discrimination at work as a woman, it can be difficult to be heard. Complaints may be passed off as being “just the way things are.” But that is not true, and differing treatment due to gender is illegal. That discrimination can mean lower pay, being passed over for promotion, less recognition and less important work.
In order to bring a successful discrimination lawsuit, it is necessary to gather documentation that supports you claim. Speaking to an employment law attorney early in the process can be helpful, as they can explain the types of information necessary to show subtle discrimination by pattern and practice.
Even with the creation of a meticulous list of examples of discrimination, it is likely to be difficult, but without such information, it can be impossible.
The New York Times, “Speaking While Female,” Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Jan. 12, 2015