Real stories of workplace discrimination submitted by our readers.

"I was unpleasantly surprised a few months ago when I learned that the guy who had been hired as my co-worker, to do the exact same video editing work I do, is being paid almost 10% more than me. When I was hired I tried to negotiate for a higher salary but was specifically told that the pay for this position is fixed and everyone in this position is paid the exact same amount. Now I feel as if I was scammed because my employer assumed that, as a woman, I would not push harder.

I need the job, but am figuring it wont be long before I begin looking for another one if this is how they treat women here."
"As a female litigator practicing for 18 years, I find that women attorneys who aggressively represent their clients are considered 'bitchy' whereas the men who do the same are “excellent litigators.” Oh, and not surprisingly I still get confused for the court reporter or secretary on a regular basis."
"A woman I've known for a long time, who happened to be an excellent lawyer, was pregnant. She had a trial scheduled for her due date. When she asked the judge to move it he denied the request, telling her to cross her legs instead!!!"
"I've been a paralegal for over 20 years. I worked for the same name partner for much of that time. I made decent money and fully expected to continue and then retire at 70. But out of the blue one day I was let go. While employed, my boss made comments like "Now that you've lost weight you must have more confidence because you're a little mouthy." On another day my boss asked me why I chose to wear heels with jeans (it was casual Friday but I always looked professional and wore a blazer) which I did not feel had anything to do with my work and was a tad out of line. The HR director was aware of these types of comments and chose to do nothing. Any time I would defend myself my boss would get very angry. I noticed that he never commented when younger women dressed that way. A few months before I was fired I learned that male paralegals were making more money that the women. I asked my boss why. He said because they have families to support. When it came time for reviews I had to fight for even a $0.25/hr raise. So many things just didn't seem right."
"I've felt badly for a long time for not doing anything about this. But there was a paralegal at our firm who became pregnant. When she told the managing partner and office manager, over the next few weeks they figured out a way to demote her and stuck her at a desk in the file room...obviously an attempt to get her to quit. Eventually she did quit. but no one stood up for her, not even the attorney she worked for who was another woman and I know felt badly. I guess people worry about their own jobs first. It just wasn't right."
"I've been practicing for almost 30 years and have more stories than there is time to tell them in. But one of my favorites happened at a litigation firm I once worked at. One of the name partners took me out to lunch the week I started. We began talking about home renovations and he proceeded to tell me about the bathroom he had just renovated. He described the shower and then added that he had a bench built in that is "perfect for fucking." I'm not sure if that was supposed to shock me or if maybe it was an invitation, but it was the first in many many many similar comments I heard from the men at this firm."
"I was the only woman lawyer working at a small firm. I had just won my first big case and was obviously very excited about it. I called my supervising partner from my office phone to his and told him the good news. Without realizing it, rather than hang up his phone after our call, the partner inadvertently put turned on his speaker phone. Right then another partner walked into his office and he immediately said "Lisa just won a case with Judge so and so. I guess he must have liked her tits." For this and variety of other reasons I left that firm and started my own practice a few months later."
"I currently have a high ranking VP of a big corporation who was earning $200,000 plus per year. She got pregnant and disclosed to her employer that once the baby came, she would be taking some time off from work as permitted under the FMLA (nothing more, nothing less).

Prior to taking her leave, it was time for contract renewal. She was offered 70% of what she was previously making based on “concerns” that she would be working less to take “care of her family” and that they didn’t “want her to feel pressured” into rushing back, and they would reevaluate her pay down the road if she was back full speed (How insulting). Meanwhile, her male counterpart was given a pay increase as part of his contract negotiation.

We are pursuing claims for violation of the FMLA, Gender Discrimination, and familial status discrimination." -Attorney Richard Cellers
"I have a female “fueler” working at a large private airport. She is the only female employee doing this labor and has been doing this for much longer than 90% of the young male employees the company is hiring and with whom she is working. Of course, the workplace is full of sexual comments and gender related remarks such as “this is a man’s job” or “I’ll help you lift the hose sweetie.” As you can imagine, there is a fair amount of word play with the word “hose” in that environment. She tolerates this behavior, begrudgingly, because she wants to fit in. The bigger problem is this- every less qualified male either hired, or working alongside her, is being hired/paid, at a higher hourly rate than she is. When she asks why, they give her the nonsensical explanation that these individuals are more qualified or “perform different duties.” This is clear gender discrimination and we are pursuing an EPA claim and a gender discrimination claim." -Attorney Richard Cellers

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