Gender discrimination and PTO

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Gender discrimination and PTO

I am wondering if I am being discriminated against. I work in a department of 4 people, 3 female and I am the sole male. I requested to have my wedding off and it was approved, and my boss asked me to let him know when my honeymoon was scheduled so I can request the time off in advance. I put my request for my honeymoon in weeks ago and my boss keeps saying he is fine with it, but keeps saying he has to check with various people i.e. his boss, etc. Now, he is asking my three other coworkers if they’re okay with me taking off. I contacted HR and they state there is no policy regarding maximum PTO usage in this case it would be 2 weeks for the honeymoon and PTO approvals are granted by seniority I am the senior member of my department. I have never had to give permission for any of my female coworkers to take extended periods of time off, whether they were getting married themselves or going out of the country. I have my boss saying multiple times that he is okay with me taking the time off but seems to be dragging his feet and trying to find new ways to pin denying it on someone else. Is this a hostile work environment or discrimination?

Asked on May 21, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is not a hostile work enviroment: that is making of sexist comments, inappropriate comments about sex or dating, having pornographic or other inapprpriate pictures up, etc. 
Whether it is discrimination depends on whether there is some valid reason why in this case they are treating your request for time off differently...are you requesting more time than others have, for example? Is it a particularly busy time at work, or are there some critical deadlines or projects to be completed during or shortly after your requested time off? If two weeks off now would be burdensome for the employer, the employer can deny the request (or solicit co-worker input, such as whether they think they can cover without you)--while an employer cannot indefinitely prevent you from using PTO you earned, an employer does have the right and discretion so say "Not then--it's a bad time" or "We can't lose someone for two weeks straight at that time," etc.
But if there is nothing (e.g. not length of time off, not the particular timing, etc.) which makes your request different from those granted for female employees, then treating the sole male differently than the female employees may be illegal sex-based discrimination, and you could try contacting the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency about filing a complaint. 


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