Gender and the Law

This guide contains materials dealing with sex and gender discrimination, sex stereotyping, and state/federal laws pertaining to gender or sex.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Quote from 53 Am. Jur. Trials 299:

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to stamp out employment discrimination. Coming on the crest of the civil rights movement, the 1964 Act was directed primarily at eliminating racism in America. In fact, the inclusion of sex as a protected category (together with race, religion and national origin) was something of an afterthought. The result, for jurists and lawyers concerned with sex discrimination cases, was that Title VII has literally no legislative history for guidance in the area of sex-based job bias.

Consequently, issues rapidly arose respecting what is, and is not, illegal sex discrimination under Title VII. For example, an area which remains highly controversial is sexual harassment. The televised confirmation hearings for United States Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1992 may have been the high-water mark of national consciousness about this well-known, but not yet well-understood, subset of sex discrimination. The Supreme Court (now including Justice Clarence Thomas) continues to grapple with slippery issues concerning what constitutes sexual harassment, such as whether the victim must demonstrate psychological damage, or simply that she reasonably was offended.

Any inquiry that carries the courts into the realm of the psyche is fraught with uncertainty, and thus leaves judges and lawyers decidedly uncomfortable. Perhaps in no area of of sex-discrimination law is this more apparent than in sexual stereotyping.

"Stereotype" is a word burdened with negative overtones precisely because it is closely associated with racial, ethnic and national origin discrimination. The most pertinent dictionary definition, for purposes of this article, is "a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an over-simplified opinion, affective attitude, or uncritical judgment."

The practitioner who becomes involved in a sex discrimination case concerning sexual stereotyping is likely to encounter one of two or three sorts of negative stereotypes which have been associated with women, including the preconceptions that women should not be as aggressive as men, and are more emotional than men. This article concerns the discriminatory termination of a woman's employment as the result of her having failed to live up to the employer's preconception of appropriate characteristics of female employees."

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Extracted from 20 U.S.C. § 1681:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

What Constitutes Sex Discrimination Under Title VII

Quote from 115 A.L.R. Fed. 1:

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2) makes it unlawful for an employer to, among other things, terminate an employee on the basis of sex. Several different theories of sex discrimination in termination of employment have been advanced by employees who have alleged that they were illegally terminated by their employers on the basis of sex. Employees have alleged sex discrimination due to disparate treatment or disparate impact. Additionally, terminated employees have also alleged that their terminations resulted from sexual harassment, which includes both hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. For example, in Dockter v Rudolf Wolff Futures, Inc. (1990, CA7 Ill) 913 F2d 456, 53 BNA FEP Cas 1642, 54 CCH EPD ¶40246, 115 ALR Fed 657, a female administrative assistant who was terminated brought an unsuccessful Title VII action against her former employer alleging that she was discriminatorily terminated on the basis of sex under both the hostile work environment and quid pro quo theories of sexual harassment, based on the alleged actions of the employee's supervisor in physically harassing her and making verbal sexual advances towards her. The following annotation collects and analyzes those cases in which the courts have decided whether an employee was terminated from his or her employment due to illegal sex discrimination."

Suggestions from the Catalog

Recommended Journal Articles on Title IX

Heafey Law Library Research Team