In the United States, the fight for equality in the workplace continues. The term “glass ceiling” was coined to described the invisible barrier that keeps qualified individuals from obtaining higher level positions in companies of all sizes because of their race or gender.
The term most often refers to a form of sex discrimination which cuts women out of management, supervisory or executive roles based on unfair stereotypes and biased assumptions. When a female or minority employee advances into mid- or high-level senior positions, the achievement is sometimes referred to as ‘cracking the glass ceiling.’
Is the “Glass Ceiling” Legal?
No. The glass ceiling is an illegal form of employment discrimination usually falling under sex and gender discrimination. If an employer is operating with a glass ceiling in place, an employee may have a valid claim against the employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Recognizing Glass Ceiling Discrimination
Glass ceiling discrimination can take many forms, some of which are more subtle than others, but still have the effect of impairing career progression. The following are some examples of the behaviors or actions that can constitute glass ceiling discrimination:
- Being denied promotions even with the necessary qualifications;
- Experiencing demeaning or degrading comments because of race or gender;
- Isolated from leadership training or other opportunities for leadership experience;
- Being transferred or experiencing a territory change with no explanation.
Proving a Glass Ceiling Case
Since the presence of a glass ceiling is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the same elements necessary for proving sex discrimination are necessary for a “glass ceiling case”. Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in all forms of the employment process including hiring, promotions and compensation.
“Glass ceiling” cases must provide evidence that the employee meeting all the requirements for the position and that the employer took an adverse action against the employee based on their gender. Some cases involve illustrating a disproportionate hiring or promotional practice that favor a specific gender or race over another.
If You Suspect You are Operating Under a Glass Ceiling…
If you think you are operating under a glass ceiling at your company, know that you have rights. For expert advice, contact us at Victory Law Group, LLP for a free case evaluation. We are here to help fight for equality in the workplace.