Class Actions & Workplace Gender Discrimination

The Center for Justice & Democracy created a fact sheet on how class actions remedy workplace gender discrimination, as an accompaniment to their sheet on racial discrimination we posted last week. Highlights include:

In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that of the 93,727 workplace discrimination charges it received in 2013, 27,687 or 29.5 percent involved sex discrimination…

Yet there are many reasons why filing an individual lawsuit under Title VII (as opposed to joining a class action) is an unrealistic option for anyone experiencing workplace discrimination. First, class actions may be the only way to prove or remedy “systemic discrimination.” As explained by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), “Without a broad discovery of company-wide statistical and other data that class actions facilitate, it is difficult for civil rights plaintiffs to prove a pervasive pattern and practice of discrimination.”

In addition, it’s incredibly expensive to file as an individual and class actions can share the cost and make the action more viable. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act supplemented other federal laws – including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – to remedy pay discrimination in 2009 , but when some employers continue to discriminate, individuals need a method to enforce these anti-discrimination laws.

Class actions give individuals more access to the courts. Unfortunately, these rights are under attack from class action bans in forced arbitration clauses of employment contracts. While these clauses are still in effect, the fact sheet explains, “They allow corporations and businesses to ignore civil rights laws and operate with impunity.”

Read about specific gender discrimination cases in the full report.


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