Women have come a long way in business over the last couple generations, but there’s always progress to be made. Females in the workplace are no longer treated as though they are damsels in distress, and our intellect is now being recognized on more realistic terms.
The lingering problem is that women in business are still being paid quite a bit less than men to do the same jobs. Sexual discrimination is still a very real issue in the workplace. Employers have denied women the rights to benefits such as workers’ compensation and medical leave, but the law is working diligently to weed out these injustices.
The best way to protect yourself from being treated poorly is to know your rights as a woman in the workplace.
The Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act was placed into action near the end of the Great Depression. The act was meant to standardize working conditions, ban child labor, set a minimum wage, and set a maximum amount of hours an individual can work per week.
The fact that the FLSA is not specific to gender makes it a valuable tool for women today. Make sure you are being paid fairly, given reasonable working hours, and that the conditions of your labor are not unsafe.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is well known as the legal protection against discrimination in the workplace and upon hiring or firing. No individual can be treated differently due to their sex, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.
The act makes it illegal for employers to cut a woman’s hours because she finds out she’s pregnant. The act makes it illegal for employers to fire a woman for missing work due to giving birth.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
While we’re on the topic of pregnancy, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you from being shafted by your employer on healthcare benefits. This amendment to the Civil Rights Act makes it possible for women to step away from their job for a moment while giving birth without the fear of losing their career.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
This particular act is somewhat troublesome to understand. The trouble is in understanding how such a legal boundary could be written in “stone,” and yet so blatantly ignored by employers nationwide.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires businesses to pay men and women the same wage for doing the same job, but it doesn’t work out that way. On average, women make 80 cents less on the dollar than men do for performing exactly the same job.
The Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act applies to men and women, but women tend to get the short end of the stick on this one.
According to FMLA, you are legally allowed to take time off after giving birth, and your employer is legally required to hold your position. If the position is not held, you are legally entitled to return to work at the same pay rate, no matter the job you are performing.