Do I Have a Glass Ceiling Claim?

glass ceiling case - woman

Glass ceiling claims are brought by employees who are denied full access to promotions in Massachusetts workplaces, as well as throughout the rest of the country. Employees are often unsure whether their workplace experiences provide the legal basis for a glass ceiling claim. In Boston, the experienced employment law attorneys at the Maura Greene Law Group have represented many clients facing glass ceiling issues and are prepared to zealously advocate for your rights if you have been unfairly denied a promotion in the workplace. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule an evaluation of your case. 

What is a Glass Ceiling?

Glass ceiling claims are a form of discrimination against certain employees, often women. Employers and managers may engage in practices or attitudes in the workplace that keep these employees from reaching management and other advanced positions within a company. 

Employers often engage in practices to exclude women and other candidates from these leadership positions. They may not post open positions, or they may internally identify a male candidate for a position by “tapping them on the shoulder.” They may also exclude women from networking events where male employees are given the exclusive opportunity to socialize with male executives. Under state and federal laws, it is a discriminatory practice for managers to reserve certain positions for men in order to maintain the “old boy’s club” at mid- and upper-level positions. 

Behavior and conduct that enforce the glass ceiling can take many forms. We often see female employees who are celebrated and recognized within their industries, but their own companies will not promote them above a certain level. In addition, many women are asked to perform higher level roles and undertake the associated job responsibilities but are not promoted or compensated at that higher level. Some companies will only promote female employees to female-dominated positions, such as human resources and marketing. Some common examples of discriminatory conduct in a glass ceiling claim include the following:

  • Excluding women from meetings
  • Excluding women from networking and development events
  • Reassigning a man to a woman’s clients or job duties
  • Being transferred without explanation
  • Never being promoted despite excellent job performance 
  • Exposure to degrading or discriminatory comments
  • Being assigned stereotypical female job duties
  • Being overlooked for pay raises and job promotions that routinely go to men
  • Being paid less than men in similar roles 
  • Preventing advancement to upper management roles 

How to Prove a Glass Ceiling Claim

Glass ceiling claims can be made under M.G.L. c. 151B and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in the hiring, promoting, and compensation of employees. A claimant in a glass ceiling case must be able to prove that despite meeting job requirements, their employer denied them promotions or pay raises, or the employer has a history of disproportionate hiring or promotion of men over women.

Remedies for a Glass Ceiling Claim

If a woman can successfully prove a glass ceiling claim, she is entitled to a number of damages under state and federal law. Compensation may include back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. Talk to an experienced employment law attorney today to learn more.

Talk to the Maura Greene Law Group

If you are concerned that you’ve been unfairly denied promotions based on your gender or another protected characteristic, you should call or contact our firm to schedule a consultation. 

Please keep in mind that there are very short statutes of limitations for this type of claim. If you delay in pursuing a claim, your rights may be affected. 

The Not So Fine Print:

We see patterns in our practice, like the ones described above.  However, every case has its own unique facts.  Before you take any action, you should contact an employment lawyer and get advice on your own situation.  We can’t provide legal advice here and this isn’t intended as legal advice.   Keep in mind that it is best, if possible, to establish a relationship with an attorney before a workplace issue turns into a full-blown crisis.  Employees who have received a verbal or written warning or performance improvement plan, should contact counsel now.  Ditto for employees who are seeing their doctor for workplace related stress or anxiety.