Equal Rights

Both women and men are protected from discrimination based on gender under federal law. A discriminatory act based on an individual's sex does not have to be sexual in nature. For example, comments by an employer that a "woman cannot do this job" is gender-based but not sexual harassment.

Sidebar: The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equality to women. Since 1970, an Equal Rights Amendment has been proposed. Its ratification fell short by three states in a 1972 vote. The ERA states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The ERA was proposed again in 2003 and must pass Congress before another ratification vote may occur.