This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By Kara Osborne, Esq.
There are many protections in the law for employees in the workplace, specifically, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity), or national origin.
Gender Stereotyping in the Workplace
Title VII also makes it unlawful to use policies or practices that seem neutral but have a discriminatory effect against people because of the abovementioned protected classes. That being said, sex or gender stereotyping is a less obvious form of sex discrimination, and it occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee because he or she does not follow the “expected” gender stereotypes and impressions.
The pivotal case regarding Title VII gender stereotyping claims is Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 109 S. Ct. 1775, 104 L. Ed. 2d 268 (1989). In this case, the Supreme Court stated that evidence of an employer’s gender stereotyping could be used to prove that an employee faced unlawful sex discrimination. The Supreme Court held that “as for the legal relevance of sex stereotyping, we are beyond the day when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group…”
While Price Waterhouse dealt with sex stereotypes regarding women, many subsequent cases apply the standard against sexual stereotyping to men, such as patriarchal, transgender and gay stereotypes such as not “acting” how their perceived gender would act.
Treating employees adversely for not conforming to sex stereotypes of any kind, not just “femininity”, is a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Justice Neil Gorsuch and the United States Supreme Court in 2020 (Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731, 1737 (2020), held that “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.” The Supreme Court further stated that when an individual is fired because of their sexuality or gender identity, “sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Although our society has come a long way in terms of equality in the workplace, there still is a pervasive issue when it comes to intrinsic stereotypes based on a person’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
An employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender does so for traits that it would not have questioned in members of a different sex, just as if an employer fires a woman for acting “too aggressively” or not dressing femininely or a man for not conforming to patriarchal expectations. These limited examples show how employment decisions “because of” sex stereotyping are in direct violation of Title VII and are actionable for employees.
If you are an employee in need of employment law representation, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook and Twitter.
Tacos are closer to being served in Westover, just in time for the holidays. After a nearly 4-month delay, Westover Taco at 5849 Washington Blvd — previously the home of…
Enjoy some tasty bites while networking at BizArt at WHINO on December 11!
The Arlington Chorale is gearing up to bring a long-lost musical piece to life at its holiday concert next Saturday in Westover. The community choir plans to perform familiar classics,…
Plans to redevelop the Goodwill near Route 50 — with affordable housing, childcare and a new store and donation center — have received a relatively warm reception, per a recent…
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.