Employment

Employment

Employment is critical to women’s equality, because economic opportunity allows women to be independent and lead lives of dignity. Gender-based employment discrimination happens in both obvious and more indirect ways. Women still have not reached parity with men in earnings. Women still lack full access to traditionally male occupations and are often steered into lower-paying and less desirable jobs, and the industries that are dominated by women remain the least valued.

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Further, the work of caring for children, sick family, and elderly parents is assumed to be, and often is, "women’s work." This caregiving work, although essential to society, tends to be undervalued, and often is either unpaid, when women combine care for their own families with paid work, or underpaid, when they work in caregiving occupations. Workplace policies still fail to account for these obligations, and workers with child or elder care responsibilities often face sex discrimination and harassment, inhibiting their advancement in the workforce. Workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding are fired or pushed out of the workplace, a practice rooted in the stereotype that women should be mothers, not workers.

The ACLU works to ensure that all women, especially those facing intersecting forms of discrimination, have equal access to employment free from sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes, pregnancy and parenting discrimination, and unsafe and unfair work conditions. Through our efforts we are also challenging the undervaluing of "women’s work."

Additional Resources

Coming up Short 50 Years After the Equal Pay Act (2013 feature): This year marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This landmark piece of federal anti-discrimination law was one of the very first to address gender-based pay disparities. On the day he signed it, President Kennedy called the act a "first step" which "affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes." But he noted that "much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity."
Pay Equity (2013 resource): The ACLU works to end discrimination in the workplace and ensure that all workers — regardless of sex, race, national origin, age or disability—are able to bring home every dollar they rightfully earn. As a result of discrimination, including employers’ reliance on gender stereotypes, women lack parity with men in earnings.
Fighting Sex Discrimination on the Job (2010 resource): Whether in Congress or the courts, the ACLU is committed to fighting pay and promotion disparity for women. By pushing legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and lawsuits that hold employers accountable for discrimination against women, the ACLU is working to make equal pay for equal work a reality.

Most Popular

The Fight for Equal Pay is Not Over (2010 blog): In this blog post our legislative office takes a close look at changes in women’s salaries over time and revals that the fight for equal pay for women is far from over.
Senate Holds Hearing On Gender Pay Inequality (2010 press release)
ACLU Calls For Passage of Equal Pay Legislation on Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2010 press release)
Women: Do You Work Just for the Sake of Working? (2011 blog)
Marking the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (2011 blog)

SPECIAL FEATURE

Women Police and Physical Ability Tests

In the U.S., thousands of women police officers serve their communities every day, and most do an exemplary job. Yet women remain a minority of sworn officers, averaging about 12 percent. And when it comes to SWAT teams – elite special weapons and tactics units – women are almost completely excluded. One important reason for the exclusion of women from police forces and special units is physical ability tests.
Learn More »

SPECIAL FEATURE

Equal Pay Today!

The Equal Pay Today! campaign has sent letters to every Governor in the country asking each to commit to work to close the wage gap in his or her state.
Learn More »

SPECIAL FEATURE

50th Anniversary of Equal Pay Act

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This landmark piece of federal anti-discrimination law was one of the very first to address gender-based pay disparities. On the day he signed it, President Kennedy called the act a "first step" which "affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes." But he noted that "much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity."
Learn More »

SPECIAL FEATURE

Pay Equity

The ACLU works to end discrimination in the workplace and ensure that all workers — regardless of sex, race, national origin, age or disability—are able to bring home every dollar they rightfully earn. As a result of discrimination, including employers’ reliance on gender stereotypes, women lack parity with men in earnings.
Learn More »

SPECIAL FEATURE

Pregnancy and Parenting Discrimination

Pregnancy DiscriminatinoFiring women because they are pregnant, or treating pregnant workers worse than other workers who are also temporarily unable to perform some aspect of the job, has been illegal since 1978, when Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But employers still do it, and, unfortunately, some courts have upheld these practices when employers come up with a “pregnancy-blind” reason to leave pregnant workers out in the cold. When women are pushed out of the workplace, they lose important income and benefits, contributing to a gender wealth gap between men and women.
Learn More »

 

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