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Any qualified individual in Tennessee has the right to apply for an available job regardless of whether or not that occupation is traditionally associated with certain genders or perceived gender traits. Yet there’s research suggesting both men and women face workplace discrimination when applying for positions commonly held by individuals of the opposite sex. For instance, a man applying for a housekeeping job is less likely to be called back for an interview than a woman applying for the same position.

In order to identify this type of workplace discrimination, a sociologist sent out thousands of applications for various working-class and middle-class jobs. Occupations typically associated with one sex or the other were purposely selected. Male applicants received more callbacks for male-dominated working-class jobs and ads that referenced traits such as strength and mechanical ability. Women were called back more often for traditionally female middle-class jobs. Female callbacks were even higher if ads referenced friendliness and customer service.

The research on this topic suggests gender-based discrimination is more likely to involve working-class jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields. Also, certain working-class occupations remain as segregated as they were in the 1960s, even though the Equal Opportunity Employment Act prohibits this type of gender-based discrimination. However, the same sociologist found no signs of hiring discrimination involving middle-class-entry-level positions in typically male-dominated work environments – suggesting some progress has been made over the years. But women still have difficulty obtaining high-paying middle-class jobs dominated by male, suggesting there’s also room for improvement.

Whether occurs during the hiring process or on the job, there are laws in place meant to provide legal protections. With issues involving employment discrimination hiring practices, an attorney may get involved if initial efforts such as contacting a state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fail to produce satisfactory results. A lawyer might look at things like how ads are worded, the questions typically asked during an interview, and a particular employer’s workplace demographics. If litigation is successful, a court may order that an employer hire a qualified individual. Punitive damages could also be awarded.