Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The following FAQ's are for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitution for legal advice.


Q:  On what grounds can I file a complaint under the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  The following are grounds of discrimination under the Law:

  • sex;
  • marital status;
  • pregnancy; or
  • any characteristic based upon gender which appertains generally or is generally imputed to persons of a particular sex or marital status or pregnant state.


Q:  What is gender and how is it defined in the Law?

A:  Gender and sex are not interchangeable terms; they do not mean the same thing.  Sex refers to our physical realities (e.g. being born male or female, our anatomy or physical characteristics). Gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes, roles and opportunities which determine what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman/man and girl/boy. Gender is also a factor to consider when examining the power and social relations between persons of a different sex and same sex.

The Gender Equality Law, 2011 defines gender as "the cultural, economic, social, and political characteristics, roles and opportunities through which women and men are socially constructed and valued."


Q:  What is gender equality?

A:  Gender equality refers to the right of women and men and boys and girls to have the same opportunities for the achievement of important goals in society such as education, employment and income and to contribute to political, social, and cultural development at all levels. Gender equality does not mean that women and men will become the same; rather it is about equal opportunities and rights for all. Therefore, the aim of gender equality is for society to equally value the similarities and the differences of men and women, and the roles they play.


Q:  How is discrimination defined in the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  A person discriminates against another person by any distinction, exclusion or preference that has the intent or effect of putting a person or group at a disadvantage of opportunity in their employment or occupation (See Section 3.1). Sex discrimination and gender discrimination refer to an adverse action or making a distinction in favor of or against a person that would not have occurred had the person been of a different sex or displayed different gender characteristics. Additionally, any act, practice or policy that directly or indirectly results in discrimination against a person is an act of discrimination regardless of whether or not the person intended to discriminate (See Section 3.3).


Q:  What is the difference between direct and indirect discrimination?

A:  Direct discrimination occurs as follows:

  • Person A applies to Person B a particular act, practice or policy that is not applied to the opposite sex of Person B.

For example, direct discrimination would occur if during interviews, female applicants are asked about their family or pregnancy plans but males are never asked questions of this nature; or male victims of domestic violence are denied access to protection or given different treatment than female victims of domestic violence.

Indirect discrimination occurs as follows:

  • Person A applies to Person B an act, practice or policy,
  • Person A applies (or would apply) that act, practice or policy to persons not of the same sex as B,
  • This act, practice or policy puts or would put Person B at a particular disadvantage,
  • Person A cannot justify the relevance of the act, practice or policy by showing that it has a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

For example, a company policy in a highly male dominated profession states that employees are prohibited from taking their 15 minute break after 2:00pm. The company's policy unknowingly discriminates against their female employees who are nursing and need to express milk for their babies in the afternoon.


Q:  What are the main areas that are covered in the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  The main areas addressed in the Law are:

  • Protection from discrimination in employment, training, and hiring for both sexes.
  • Women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value.
  • Sexual harassment is prohibited in the workplace.
  • Equal treatment is expected in related matters such as the provision of goods, services, and facilities.


Q:  As an employer, what do I need to know when recruiting or selecting persons for employment?

A:  Employers need to ensure that they do not discriminate against another person through the following methods:

  • in advertising a job
  • in an interview or other arrangements made for the purpose of determining who should be offered employment
  • in determining who should be offered employment
  • in the terms and conditions on which employment is offered
  • in the creation, classification or abolition of jobs

See Section 4 of the Law for more information.


Q:  In what situations could an employer discriminate in the workplace?

A:  The Law states that an employer shall not discriminate against an employee in relation to any of the following:

  • in the terms or conditions of employment
  • in the conditions of work or occupational safety and health measures
  • in the provision of facilities related to or connected with employment
  • by denying access, or limiting access to opportunities for advancement, promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or services associated with employment
  • by retrenching or dismissing the employee
  • by subjecting the employee to any other disadvantage

See Section 4 of the Law for more information.


Q:  If I believe that I have been unlawfully discriminated against under the Gender Equality Law, 2011, how do I file a complaint?

A:  The Gender Equality Complaint Form can be downloaded here. Once completed and signed, the form may be emailed to the Gender Equality Tribunal Secretary at Alternatively, the form can be hand delivered or sent via registered mail to the following address:

The Gender Equality Tribunal
Attn: Gender Equality Tribunal Secretary
Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs
Government Administration Building Box 108
133 Elgin Avenue
Grand Cayman  KY1-9000


Q:  Is there a time limit to submit a complaint?

A:  Yes. The Gender Equality Law, 2011 states that a complaint must be made within 6 months from the date on which the alleged act(s) took place. However, under the Law, the Tribunal has the discretion to accept a complaint after this time if it is satisfied that the reasons for the delay are reasonable.

The Law came into effect on January 31, 2012, and all acts considered for a complaint must have occurred on or after this date.


Q:  Can I file a complaint on behalf of someone else?

A:  Yes. However, when filing a complaint on behalf of another person, third parties are required to have the alleged victim's consent prior to proceeding. Independent proof of consent by the alleged victim must be provided to the Tribunal at the same time the complaint is filed.


Q:  Can I file a complaint with the Gender Equality Tribunal without having an attorney?

A:  Yes. You can file a complaint and represent yourself to the Tribunal, or you may have an attorney or another person approved by the Tribunal to assist you with presenting your matter. Only you can decide whether you need an attorney or agent to help with your case. The Tribunal cannot provide you with the name of any attorney or agent, or recommend any attorney or agent to help with your case.


Q:  If I have been called to a hearing before the Tribunal, am I allowed to have someone represent me?

A:  Yes. If a person is party to a matter before the Tribunal, he or she is entitled to appear at the hearing and may be represented by an attorney or any other person who, in the opinion of the Tribunal, is competent to assist the person in presenting the matter. You are also allowed to represent yourself if you so desire.


Q:  What power does the Gender Equality Tribunal have if a complaint is proven?

A:  If a complainant's allegations are proven, the Tribunal:

  • is required to notify in writing the complainant and the person against whom the complaint was made
  • is required to either (a) issue directions to stop the discrimination and take remedial action within a specified time period OR (b) require the accused person to pay compensation (not exceeding $20,000) to the aggrieved person within a specified time period
  • may make an award for costs (either the costs of the Tribunal or the complainant or both)


Q:  How do men benefit from the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  The provisions of the Law and protections from discrimination on the basis of sex, gender and marital status apply equally to men and women, so men benefit in the same way that women do. Men have the same rights to equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination and harassment and can make a complaint to the Tribunal if they are treated unfairly.

As an example, male victims of domestic violence or sexual harassment often experience inequitable treatment compared to women because their complaints may be considered unfounded or less serious than those of women. Statistics show that men are also less likely to seek help in these types of situations. A 2006 survey by the Business and Professional Women's Club found that almost 70% of men that had been stalked did not report it to anyone - even friends or family - and that 93% of male victims of sexual harassment did not seek help. The Gender Equality Law, 2011 prohibits male victims of domestic violence or sexual harassment from being treated any differently than female victims.

In the workplace, fathers should be able to receive the same allowance for flexible working hours or other employment conditions that are offered to their colleagues that are mothers. And employers can no longer make hiring decisions on the grounds of sex or gender if no genuine occupational qualification exists, opening up job training and career opportunities to males that have traditionally been filled by females.

The Law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination against both men and women on the prohibited grounds. See the FAQ above on the difference between these two types of discrimination for more information.


Q:  Does the Gender Equality Law, 2011 apply to private households?

A:  Private households are only exempt from Section 4(1) of the Law, which deals with recruitment, selection or employment of a person for the purposes of a private household. This does not mean that other areas covered under the Law such as sexual harassment, the terms and conditions of employment or the conditions of work, for example, are not applicable to those employed for the purposes of a private household.


Q:  Are exceptions allowed under the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  Yes. It is not considered discrimination if a genuine occupational qualification is required. Some possible examples are a foster home requiring the manager to be a married couple, a prison or hospital because of the nature of the establishment requires the job to be held by persons of a particular sex, or a dramatic performance requires that a man is hired for a role in order to maintain authenticity.

See Section 5(2) of the Law, which outlines the exceptions for genuine occupational qualifications, for more information.


Q:  Are certain organisations exempt from the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  Yes, charities and religious bodies have some limited exemptions from the Law.

See Part 3 of the Law for more information.


Q:  Does this Law mean that I can't flirt anymore at work?

A:  No. There are differences between flirting and sexual harassment. For example, sexual harassment has many negative consequences, elicits negative feelings and there is an offender and a victim; flirting is reciprocal, consensual and produces good feelings and both persons are on equal ground. The perception of the victim in relation to sexual harassment and flirting should also be considered.

See also the FAQ below on sexual harassment.


Q:  How is sexual harassment defined in the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  Sexual harassment includes unwanted conduct of a sexual nature against an employee by an employer or another employee in the workplace or in connection with the performance of or recruitment for work.

Sexual harassment can be threatened or imposed on an employee as a condition of employment. This kind of sexual harassment is known as "quid pro quo", which means "this for that". In the workplace, this occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances.

Sexual harassment can create a hostile working environment for the employee and has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the employee or intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offending the employee.


Q:  Where can I get a copy of the Gender Equality Law, 2011?

A:  Download a copy here and learn more about gender equality and your rights.