gender discrimination in healthcare

Gender discrimination in the healthcare profession continues to happen daily. Despite women making up a significant portion of healthcare workers, women are significantly underrepresented in executive positions. Gender discrimination also includes discrimination based on an employee’s gender expression or other gender-related characteristics.

If you’ve experienced gender discrimination in the healthcare profession, you may have a right to file a claim against your employer. Gender-based discrimination can happen due to pregnancy, gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The sooner you speak to an experienced gender discrimination lawyer, the better. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can advocate for you.

The New York City Human Rights Law and Gender Discrimination

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) is one of the strictest anti-discrimination laws in the country. The law protects healthcare workers, along with all other kinds of workers, from discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, the NYCHRL prohibits discrimination based on gender in employment. Most healthcare employees are protected by the provisions of NYCHRL. 

The NYCHRL defines gender as “actual or perceived sex, gender identity, and gender expression including a person’s actual or perceived gender-related self-image, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristics, regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth.” The law expands protection beyond biological sex and covers a person’s sexual identification and expression. 

Hiring or Firing a Healthcare Employee Based on Gender Is Unlawful

Under the NYCHRL, it is unlawful to refuse to hire or promote a person based on the person’s actual or perceived gender. It is also unlawful to fire an employee based on his or her actual or perceived gender. This protection applies to individuals who are non-binary, transgender, or gender non-conforming. 

For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire an employee for a nursing position because the employee identifies as gender non-conforming. Likewise, unlawful gender discrimination would include an employer firing a dental hygienist after learning that the employee identified as transgender. 

Failing to Use an Employee’s Name or Pronouns Is Gender Discrimination

Healthcare employers in New York City must use the name, pronouns, and title with which their employee self-identifies. The sex assigned at birth is not relevant. When an employee states his or her preferred pronouns, the employer must use those pronouns. For example, a large hospital cannot refuse to make new identification badges for a respiratory therapist who changes his or her preferred pronouns and name. Or, an employer cannot continue to call an employer “Ms.” after he identifies as “Mr.”

Gender Stereotyping

Gender discrimination can happen in a variety of different ways. Gender stereotyping is one of the most common types of gender discrimination. Gender stereotyping happens when someone uses over-simplified expectations about how people of a certain gender should be or how they should act. 

For example, the nursing field has been dominated by women for some time. When it comes to registered nurses and other caregivers, male nurses sometimes face gender discrimination. Assuming that women are better than men at nursing because they are more caring would be a gender stereotype. Similarly, while the number of female doctors and surgeons has increased over the years, women do still face discrimination based on gender while pursuing these careers. 

Executive Level Healthcare Positions 

The healthcare industry is not immune to discrimination based on gender. Women make service as healthcare workers across the country, yet they are under-represented in leadership roles. Only 12 percent of venture capital partners and health CEOs are women. Recently, women across the country have shared stories of gender discrimination against pharmaceutical sales representatives, tenured scientists, and top executives. 

The lack of representation in hiring and promotions within the healthcare industry has become a prominent topic of discussion lately. Recently, #MeTooMedicine has become a popular hashtag through which women share stories of gender discrimination and harassment in their jobs as healthcare professionals. 

Promotional Bias 

Promotional bias happens when employers promote a man over a woman into a leadership role, particularly in executive and administrative positions. When two candidates have similar work experience and other credentials, and the company promotes a male candidate, the female candidate may have a valid claim for gender discrimination. 

As mentioned above, only 12 percent of venture capital partners and healthcare industry CEOs are women. This statistic tells us that there is likely a fair amount of promotional bias when it comes to hiring women for powerful corporate positions in the healthcare field. If you’ve been denied a promotion in favor of a similarly qualified male candidate, you may have a legal claim against your employer. 

Engaging in Discriminatory Harassment Based on Gender

Depending on their specific job, some healthcare professionals are likely to experience harassment and abuse from patients. Dealing with harassing patients is bad enough — healthcare workers should not be subjected to harassment from employers or co-workers based on gender. Discrimination based on gender includes threatening verbal harassment, violence, the threat of violence, intimidation, cyberbullying, and coercion based on gender. 

An example of discriminatory harassment would be a co-worker threatening a fellow nurse because he is a transgender person or identifies as non-gender conforming. Or, one or more employees may make disparaging comments in a private social media group for nurses who work in a hospital. Engaging in retaliation after an employee files a claim for gender discrimination or requests accommodations based on gender is also unlawful in New York. 

Contact Our New York City Gender Discrimination Lawyers Today

At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we can help you understand whether or not you have a valid claim against your employer. If you do have a claim, we can help you navigate your legal rights and advocate for you throughout the process. Taking the time to investigate whether you’ve been looked over a position due to unlawful gender discrimination can be worth it. Contact us today to get started.