Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: What to Do?

Gender discrimination in the workplace can occur in different forms, but generally it means that an employee or job applicant is treated differently or less favorably because of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

According to the official ePortugal public services page, “regardless of gender, all workers in Portugal must enjoy equal rights, particularly regarding remuneration or remuneration arising from their work”.

Not all gender discrimination is explicit. Often, a certain practice or policy may not have been implemented with the purpose of keeping women, trans or non-binary people out of certain jobs, but it ends up having that effect.

Examples of gender discrimination

Some examples of treatment that may be considered gender discrimination are:

  • Not being hired or receiving less pay because of your gender identity or sexual orientation (for example, when an employer refuses to hire women or only hires women for certain jobs);
  • Being evaluated more harshly because of their gender identity, or because they do not present themselves in a way that is in accordance with traditional ideas of femininity;
  • Earning less than a person of a different gender/sexual orientation, who is similar or less qualified, or who has similar job duties;
  • Not be promoted when people of another gender identity/sexual orientation are equally or less qualified;
  • Being the target of insults and hearing hostile comments about people with a certain gender identity or sexual orientation;
  • Getting fired for being pregnant.

What can be done

If you have already suffered — or are currently suffering — from gender discrimination at work, here are some measures you can take. Do what's right for you.

Talk to your superiors.

Report discrimination incidents to Human Resources or your boss. It is not always comfortable to talk about certain topics, but it is important to do so with someone who is in a position of authority, so that discriminatory behaviors can be more easily abolished. State the situation in writing and make sure you keep copies of what you wrote and the answers you received safely.

Find out about your rights.

Review the policies of the company you work for to find out which rules can protect you. If there is no information on how to report or complain about discrimination, see if there is a Human Resources telephone number or call the Working Conditions Authority (ACT) .

Write down the details.

Write down, in detail, what happened and when it happened, including anything you said or did, as well as any witnesses or people who may have been involved in the situations. Include all the examples of discrimination you can remember and write everything down to avoid forgetting important details (time, date, place, who was present, etc.). Be objective.

Employment discrimination in case of pregnancy

Pregnancy discrimination involves the unfavorable treatment of a woman—employee or applicant—because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a pregnancy-related medical condition. This type of discrimination also includes hostile behavior and negative or rude interpersonal treatment.

On the ePortugal portal , it reads: “Discrimination exists when behaviors involve unfavorable treatment, compared to treatment given to another person" or "apparently neutral treatment, although it places the subject in a disadvantageous position, in relation to another person" .

If the employer intends to dismiss a worker who is pregnant, has recently given birth or is breastfeeding, it must communicate its intention to the Commission for Equality in Labor and Employment (CITE).

According to ePortugal , "a pregnant or breastfeeding worker has the right to request immediate supervisory action from the entity responsible for these issues, if the employer does not comply with its obligations relating to the protection of their safety and health."

If you would like to obtain additional information on the topic of gender equality in the workplace, ask the Commission for Equality in Labor and Employment (CITE) for legal assistance.

Sources: Equal Rights Advocates and ePortugal

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