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Work is a big part of our lives. It’s where adults spend a lot of their time, make friends, and earn money to take care of themselves and their families. But sometimes, people can be treated unfairly at work because of their gender, whether they are a man, a woman, or have a different gender identity. This isn’t right or fair, and there are laws to protect everyone from this kind of unfair treatment, called discrimination. Let’s learn more about it.

What Is Discrimination?

Imagine if two people, Sam and Jamie, do the same job at a company. But, if Sam is treated badly, paid less, or given fewer opportunities just because of being a girl or a boy, that’s discrimination. It’s when someone is treated differently and unfairly in things like hiring, promotions, or pay, just because of who they are.

Not All Discrimination Is Against the Law

This might surprise you, but some types of discrimination aren’t illegal. For example, a company can choose not to hire someone because they haven’t learned certain things in school or don’t have enough experience. However, it’s against the law to treat someone unfairly because of their gender, including if they are pregnant, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity.

Watch Out for Excuses

Sometimes, a boss might say they are treating someone differently for a reason that sounds legal, but they are actually being unfair because of the person’s gender. This is called a “pretext,” and it’s not allowed.

What’s Not Allowed by Law?


Harassment is a big word for when someone is being very mean or making someone else feel uncomfortable on purpose, especially about their gender. This could be unwelcome comments, jokes, or even scarier stuff. It doesn’t matter if the person being mean is a boss, another worker, or even a customer; it’s not allowed.

Being Paid Unfairly

The law says that men and women should be paid the same if they are doing the same work. This includes everything from their salary to bonuses and other benefits.

Pregnancy Discrimination

It’s against the law to treat a woman unfairly because she is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or has a medical condition related to pregnancy. Women should be given the chance to do their job and not be left out because they are or will be moms.

Taking Care of Kids

Both moms and dads have the right not to be treated unfairly because they need to take care of their children. This includes needing time off to be with a new baby or if a child is sick.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In 2020, the highest court in the United States said it’s illegal to be unfair to someone because of who they love or their gender identity. This means everyone should be treated equally, no matter who they are or who they love.


This is a big word that means punishing someone for standing up for their rights. If someone asks to be treated fairly or tells someone they are being treated unfairly, it’s illegal to treat them badly for speaking up.

What Can You Do?

If you think you or someone else is being treated unfairly at work, it’s important to talk to someone who can help, like a lawyer or a group that knows about these laws. Remember, it’s okay to stand up for yourself and ask for fair treatment.


Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and fairness at work, no matter their gender, who they love, or if they are parents. The law is there to protect these rights. Understanding these laws helps everyone know when something is wrong and how to ask for help.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.