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Workplace Issues for Female Professionals

We Help Women Fight Gender-Related Discrimination & Harassment in Wisconsin Workplaces

Wisconsin Employment Attorneys for Women in Professional & Executive Roles

Hawks Quindel employment lawyers often represent career-oriented women in leadership positions who, because of their gender, have experienced unique challenges in their profession. Representing female professionals is an important part of our mission to ensure fair treatment for all Wisconsin workers. 

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), our 21st century culture has still not achieved gender equality. Women still face sex discrimination; have, or are assumed to have, a larger role in the home; and are subject to pay disparities when performing the same job duties as men. In traditionally male-dominated professions – such as the sciences, business, finance and the law – glass ceilings prevent talented women of exceptional ability from obtaining top positions and equal pay in comparison to their male counterparts. Outright gender discrimination has become less overt, but subtle assumptions and general workplace norms continue to affect professional women in distinct ways. 

Representing female directors, managers, professors, doctors, accountants and more, Hawks Quindel employment attorneys provide experienced counsel and advocacy for female professionals in Wisconsin. We are prepared to handle a breadth of employment law issues unique to women, such as the following:

  •     Claims involving disparate compensation under the Equal Pay Act
  •     Environments where gender or sex stereotyping create unfavorable work conditions
  •     Adverse professional outcomes for pregnant women and mothers
  •     Unjust obstacles to promotion
  •     Sexual harassment in the profession
  •     Negotiation of employment contracts or severance agreements

How We Approach Cases Involving Gender

Every female professional has a different context and story, but in general we approach these cases as follows:

  1. Seek to understand your concerns and desired outcomes.
  2. Investigate legal claims, gather additional factual Information and review applicable law.
  3. Consult with you, the client, regarding goals and strategy.
  4. Confront the employer.
  5. Use negotiation, mediation and/or litigation, as appropriate.

Sample Clients from Our History Representing Female Professionals

Women considering a gender discrimination or stereotyping lawsuit may find it useful to learn about similar cases we have taken on in the past. While names and specifics have been removed to protect client privacy, the below cases are real examples of women who have courageously challenged workplace norms to defend their professional rights.

Profession: Doctor

Issue: Our client was recruited from her current position to come work for a large medical facility. She negotiated the terms of her position, including her schedule and on-call hours. After she arrived and began working in her new role, the terms she had negotiated were not upheld by the institution. Further, the doctor was subject to hostility and an intolerable work environment. However, due to her contract and having left her former position, our client felt trapped in a toxic work environment.

Our Approach: The employer’s failure to uphold our client’s terms of employment as initially bargained for gave rise to breach of contract and estoppel claims, which we raised in a detailed letter to the medical facility. Meetings were held with leadership to address the problematic environment.

Solution: Successful negotiations led to a separation agreement allowing the doctor to leave her position without forfeiting or having to reimburse the medical institution for various stipends and bonuses conditionally promised in her contract.

Profession: Insurance Account Executive

Issue: Our client was hired as an insurance sales account executive within the same month as a male employee with a similar background; however, the employer set our client’s base salary below that of her male counterpart. Despite years of meeting and exceeding her sales goals, our client’s base wage never caught up to that of her male colleague, though she asked multiple times to be paid the same wage.

Our Approach: Paying our client a lower base wage than a similarly situated male employee was in violation of the Equal Pay Act. We started with a demand letter to the employer, and when the employer refused to pay, filed suit.

Solution: This case proceeded to a bench trial, and the judge awarded our client back pay amounting to the difference between her base salary and that of her male counterpart, penalties available under the law, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Profession: Technician

Issue: Our client was a technician at a company where she was subjected to constant verbal abuse and bullying directed only at her and other female employees. She terminated her employment as a result of the verbal abuse and filed her own complaint with the Department of Workforce Development, which found probable cause to believe our client may have been discriminated against as a result of her gender.

Our Approach: The client engaged us after filing her complaint. The case was scheduled for a hearing on whether our client’s employer had violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA). We offered the employer an opportunity to explore the potential for an early settlement, and they agreed.

Solution: The case was resolved through mediation (both sides and their attorneys met to discuss a solution) for a cash payment prior to hearing.

Profession: Manager

Issue: Our client had worked as a manager at a firm for over a decade. Despite her solid performance, she witnessed her male colleagues receive development opportunities and promotions while her position remained stagnant. Her supervisor made remarks about her children and pregnancies, and it became clear to her that because she was not part of the “good old boys” club, she had little opportunity for advancement. She requested a promotion, but the request was denied. 

Our Approach: Based on adverse treatment of our client, including the failure to promote her, we filed discrimination claims against the business in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Divison.

Solution: Prior to the hearing, the case was resolved with a significant settlement payment to the client in exchange for dismissing her claims.

Profession: Administrative Professional

Issue: Our client took maternity leave for the birth of her child. Her employer terminated her immediately when she returned from leave. Her employer claimed the company was downsizing, but her duties still existed and another individual was moved into her position.

Our Approach: Because our client’s maternity leave should have been covered under the FMLA, the employer was obligated to return our client to her position after her maternity leave. We wrote to the company in an attempt to resolve our client’s issues informally. Informal negotiations failed, so we filed suit in federal court.

Solution: The case was resolved shortly after filing suit through a settlement agreement and payment to our client.

Our Employment Attorneys Help Wisconsin Women Fight For Workplace Rights

If you think you have experienced illegal, gender-based employment discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace, you have a variety of legal recourses to fight for your rights. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your workplace situation. To speak with a Madison employment lawyer, call (800) 610-0040 or (608) 257-0040; to speak with a Milwaukee employment lawyer, call (800) 236-3348 or (414) 271-8650, or send us an email.