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8 Mar 2021

Women use innovative litigation strategies to fight gender discrimination at work

The movement against gender-based discrimination in the workplace has gained significant momentum in recent years. Mass mobilisation against sex discrimination, through movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, spans across multiple industries and sectors of business, politics, entertainment, and sports. The movement is not only culturally powerful, but also legally important. Courtrooms around the globe are used as platforms to fight all types of gender-based discrimination extending to disadvantages in pay and promotion, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment.

The current momentum has made litigation an even more powerful tool; with an emboldened and more connected women’s movement, it has become riskier for companies to maintain discriminatory practices and behaviour; companies are forced not only to respond to lawsuits but also to review their internal policies and practices.

Research on gender-based discrimination litigation

We have compiled a list 50 emblematic cases of gender-based litigation from around the world to demonstrate the different litigation strategies, approaches and arguments women have used around the world to fight gender-based discrimination at work. Based on this compilation, and in collaboration with A4ID, The Good Lobby and Sidley Austin, we analysed in depth six high profile/emblematic cases from Canada, China, Colombia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, bringing together common themes of global importance. These cases are significant because they demonstrate one or several of the following criteria: novel legal findings, an innovative approach to litigation, the impact of the case in the jurisdiction and/or whether the case highlights an area of contention in the current application of the law.

Key Findings

This research demonstrates the increasing use of instruments other than traditional employment law to redress gender discrimination at work, highlighting other types of law – such as human rights legislation and tortious mechanisms – that can offer vital protection of rights, and shedding light on areas of employment legislation that may need the legal community’s further examination and potential review.

Further analysis, including a summary of key findings on gender based litigation trends from around the world is available here.

Research paper

In depth legal analysis of six emblematic lawsuits brought by women around the world to redress gender-based discrimination at work.

Lawsuits overview

Compilation of 50 lawsuits on gender-based discrimination at work.