We’ve got continuing coverage on the federal lawsuit, filed against Millcreek Township, by a female police officer.

The veteran officer is claiming she was passed over for a promotion, because she's a woman.

Erie News Now sat down with an expert, to learn more about the challenges women face in the workforce.

As we've been reporting, a 23-year veteran of the Millcreek force, claims on-going gender discrimination in the Millcreek PD is a serious enough problem, to warrant a federal lawsuit.

Lesley Mitchell, 48, claims that every male officer in her current position automatically got a promotion to captain, expect for her, she was told she would have to "prove herself."

Erie News Now spoke with Beth Zimmer, she spent decades as a headhunter for an HR firm, recruiting candidates for companies “If an employer is giving someone a new role, a new title, a new position, that has historically been a promotion for others, if this isn't going to be a promotion specifically for this particular person, there needs to be transparency there, as to what the reasons why are? What are the specific development needs that I need to address before I am qualified to serve in this position?” Zimmer said.

Zimmer says in 2019, gender discrimination certainly still exists, with women making 80 cents on the dollar, compared to most men.

She says employers have the power to develop a culture of inclusiveness in their organizations, “I see many instances where women are sharing the same responsibilities as men, and they're outperforming those men, so equal pay for equal performance is the way it should be,” said Zimmer. “And employers are responsible, I think, for really looking internally at their own biases and identifying them and figuring out how address those to make sure that everything that they're doing in their organizations are fair and equitable and inclusive,” Zimmer continued.

With more awareness nationwide being brought to equality in the workforce, Zimmer says we’re at a tipping point for more inclusiveness for women and minorities to become a reality, “There is inherent value to everybody's skills and talents to employers, and to initiatives, and including everyone and anyone who can support the success of those things is in effect a positive impact on the bottom line of whatever you're trying to do,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer says women routinely do not stick up for themselves because of a fear of professional retaliation, but with more women doing so, she says change can happen, “I think the more we see people stepping up and saying, ‘I don’t think I'm being treated fairly, help me understand that I am being fairly, or help me understand why I'm not being treated as others...’ I think seeing more examples of that in the marketplace will empower others,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer says if a woman is facing discrimination at work, having the confidence to stand up for herself, and being transparent and open with her employer is key. Asking the right questions and digging for the right answers can be difficult, but helpful.