Best Gender Discrimination Attorney Answers: What are some examples of gender discrimination? My job only provides safety equipment in men’s sizes, is that legal? Does my employer have to provide me with safety equipment that fits women? What can I do if my boss refuses to provide female workers with safety equipment that fits? How do I file a gender discrimination complaint? Discrimination For No Female Safety Equipment?
I have a confession to make, I am a huge nerd. Comic books, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, you name it. One of my favorite genres of nerd-dom is science fiction. As a kid, I dreamed of exploring the stars with Captain Jean-Luc Piccard or Captain Catherine Janeway. Even now on a clear night, I catch myself staring up at the sky and dreaming about what it would be like to go to space. When Start Trek gave Janeway the command of a starship and Star Wars made Rey the main protagonist, it seemed that every little girl should be able of dreaming of becoming an astronaut. (And, btw, I may be in the minority, but I loved Rise of Skywalker).
However, recently NASA suffered a giant embarrassment, no I am not talking about space force. NASA flubbed what was supposed to be a historic moment for women in a major way.
Anne McClain and Christina Koch were set to make history as the members of the first all-female spacewalk in history of humankind. This was such a momentous occasion that news outlets were covering the event as part of women’s history month. It was meant to be an incredible display of the strides women had made in male-dominated industries. However, just five days before the spacewalk was set to take place NASA announced that only one of the female astronauts could take part in what was supposed to be a historic event. Apparently, NASA did not have enough properly sized spacesuits for two women. Think about that, NASA didn’t have two female spacesuits! What? According to NASA if they tried to alter one of their existing uniforms it would create a considerable risk to the astronauts. NASA was also worried that they would not be able to have a suit ready in the time for the spacewalk. The spacewalk went on as scheduled, but instead of two females it was completed by a team made up of a male and female astronaut.
NASA’s flubbing of the first all-female spacewalk is the reflection of a greater problem down here on earth. When an employer fails to provide female employees with proper equipment, they not only jeopardize the safety of their female employees, they also prevent female employees from experiencing new opportunities, and may be denying female employees the opportunity to succeed whereas male employees have no such barriers. In employment law, we call this discrimination.
Employers are legally required to protect employees from dangerous workplace environments, and hazardous conditions that create a risk of injury to the employee. That legal obligation often includes providing the mandated personal protective equipment. Think hardhats on construction sites and neon vests for road workers. Employers are also required to train employees on the use of personal protective equipment including when personal protective equipment is necessary, how to put it on, take it off, adjust and generally wear the correct personal protective equipment, the limitations of the personal protective equipment, and how to properly care for and maintain the personal protective equipment.
In a 2016 survey conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was found that women made up 51.7 percent of the U.S. workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that there is a growing number of women in construction and manufacturing jobs. However, as the number of women in these historically male-dominated fields grows concerns about companies having enough of the correct personal protective equipment gear to protect their new female employees.
Common examples of employers failing to provide women with the correct personal protective equipment include ill-fitting work clothes, including flame resistant clothing, harnesses, eye protection, hard hats, and gloves. The issue of proper personal protective equipment impacts a lot of different kinds of jobs and in a variety of ways. A perfect example of this is the healthcare field, particularly nursing. Historically the nursing field has been made up primarily of women workers. However, with more and more men joining the health care workforce as nurses employers must now take into consideration the different personal protective equipment needs of men and women and make sure that they are providing personal protective equipment in the appropriate sizes for all employees, not just the majority of them.
The consequences of an employer failing to provide properly fitting personal protective equipment are twofold. There is an obvious risk to the employee’s safety. It is entirely foreseeable that an employee may be injured because of an ill-fitting safety harness, be hit in the head by falling debris due to an insufficient hard hat, be caught in a machine because the equipment given to them by their employer was too loose or baggy, or similar to what happened at NASA, an employee may be denied a certain opportunity because the personal protective equipment could not be safely used. Ill-fitting and improper may also lead an employee to file a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
As regular readers of our blog know, gender is one of the protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the similar Ohio law R.C. § 4112.02(A). Both employment discrimination laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an individual based on race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, and disability discrimination. Despite the fact that these classes have been protected for over 50 years some employers continue to violate the law. At The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, our employment lawyers work every day with individuals who have discrimination issues that are based on their gender. Many of the issues surrounding workplaces favor male employees and allow male employees many more opportunities to advance to higher, and better-paying positions. In fact, you may have read about some particularly noteworthy gender discrimination issues here on this employment discrimination blog written by our lawyers. (See My Job Promoted A Less Qualified Man!; Can I Be Fired Because My Boss Doesn’t Think I’m Feminine Enough?; Can I Still Bring A Gender Discrimination Claim If I Am Forced To Quit?). Gender discrimination can take on many forms, including failing to provide individuals of a certain gender with the necessary personal protective equipment to perform their job safely, or denying individuals promotional opportunities because the employer only has equipment for men to perform the work.
Similarly, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint with OSHA regarding ill-fitting and unsafe personal protective equipment. Employees who report illegal activity at work may risk retaliation by their employers, including wrongful termination. However, the good news is that there are both state and federal laws that offer protections for whistleblowers. OSHA even has specific protections for whistleblowers and protects whistleblowers who report unsafe or dangerous working conditions. This typically affects employees who work in industrial or manufacturing fields and have witnessed their employer knowingly, or purposefully skimping on safety measures. Employees who report the employer’s misconduct can then avail themselves of the protections offered by the OSHA if the employer retaliates against them for having blown the whistle. In fact, our lawyers have covered the subject extensively on our employment blog. (See What Protections Do I Have As A Whistleblower?; Can I Be Fired For Reporting Financial Fraud At My Company?; and Can I Be Fired For Reporting A Customer’s Illegal Acts?).
Discrimination, including refusal to provide adequate personal protective equipment that is based on race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, disability discrimination, and military status is illegal under Ohio law is R.C. § 4112.02. Similarly, retaliating against employees who report safety violations is an unlawful activity. If you have been discriminated against based on your race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry or you feel that your employer is retaliating against you for filing a report with a government agency you should not wait to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call now to talk to our top employment law lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with an expert employment law attorneys to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Discrimination and retaliation are illegal, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against their employees in any fashion. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from retaliation and discrimination.
The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to gender discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. If you are saying, “my boss treats men better than women” or “a less qualified man was promoted over me.” Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.