1. Home
  2. Welcome
  3. Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination

EEOC enforces two laws that protect you from sex discrimination at work (including when you apply for a job):

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits an employer from treating you differently, or less favorably, because of your sex, which is defined to include pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This law also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes (unfair or untrue beliefs) about abilities and traits associated with gender. In addition, Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. These protections apply even if state or local laws take a different position. Everyone, regardless of gender, is protected from sex discrimination under Title VII.
  • The Equal Pay Act requires employers to give male and female employees equal pay for equal work. This means that employers have to pay men and women equally for doing substantially the same work at the same workplace.

The laws enforced by EEOC also prohibit sex harassment at work. Sex harassment includes conduct that is sexual in nature, such as sexual jokes, photos, or touching, or requests for sexual favors, and non-sexual conduct that is based on gender, such as comments that men or women don’t belong in certain jobs, or comments questioning men’s or women’s skills or abilities.  Harassment based on sexual orientation, pregnancy, or gender identity is also prohibited.

In general, sex harassment is illegal if it is unwelcome (unwanted) and it is so frequent or serious that it creates a hostile work environment.

The law protects you from being harassed by your supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, and others in your workplace, such as a client or customer. A harasser can be the same sex as you, or a different sex.

Finally, the laws enforced by EEOC protect you from being punished or harassed at work because you or someone you closely associate with (for example, a relative or close friend) complains about sex discrimination, or takes other actions protected by the laws enforced by EEOC. We call this your right to be protected from retaliation.

If you would like more information after reading the frequently asked questions, see the EEOC's Sex-Based Discrimination pageEqual Pay and Compensation Discrimination page, and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination page.