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Gender-Based Harassment: Do I Have a Workplace Harassment Case?

July 19, 2023

Understanding Gender-Based Harassment:

In today’s evolving workplace, fostering an environment free from harassment is crucial for the well-being and productivity of all employees. Gender-based harassment is a serious issue that can undermine an individual’s sense of dignity and professionalism. In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes gender-based harassment and help you determine if you have a potential workplace harassment case.

Gender-based harassment falls under the umbrella of unlawful workplace harassment, as it targets an individual based on their gender, sex, or gender identity. The law recognizes two main types of gender-based harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment involves explicit or implied demands for sexual favors or other inappropriate behavior in exchange for job benefits or security. Hostile work environment harassment, on the other hand, occurs when unwelcome comments, actions, or behavior create an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work atmosphere, affecting an employee’s ability to perform their job.

Chicago courts have indicated:

“When dealing with sexual harassment, courts must determine whether the conduct “is severe enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment” by “distinguish[ing] between the merely vulgar and mildly offensive and the deeply offensive and sexual harassing.” The frequency of vulgar banter, tinged with sexual innuendo, of coarse or boorish workers is relevant in assessing the actions/words impact. Baskerville v. Culligan Int’l Co., 50 F.3d 428, 430 (7th Cir. 1995).”

Assessing an example workplace gender harassment case:

EXAMPLE: A female employee is subjected to a male boss who consistently makes derogatory comments like “I hate your clothes” and “women wear too much makeup”. It is essential to consider the following factors to assess whether gender-based harassment may be present:

  1. Frequency and Severity: Evaluate how frequently the offensive comments occur and their severity. A one-time remark may not be enough to constitute harassment, but persistent and degrading comments may create a hostile work environment.
  2. Gender-Based Nature: Determine if the comments specifically target the employee’s gender. In this case, the comments are directed at the woman’s clothing and woman’s makeup, which is likely tied to her gender.
  3. Impact on Work Environment: Consider how the comments affect the overall work environment. If the remarks create a toxic atmosphere or hinder the employee’s productivity, it may contribute to a hostile work environment.
  4. Employer’s Response: Assess whether the employee reported the harassment to the employer and how the company responded. A prompt and appropriate response by the employer is crucial in addressing harassment complaints but employers are not expected to be mind readers. The employee must clearly complain of the bad actions and communicate who is responsible for the bad conduct so that the employer has a fair chance to review the allegations.

Consulting an Employment Attorney:

If you believe you are experiencing gender-based harassment in the workplace, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced employment attorney. They can evaluate your specific situation, guide you through the legal process, and help determine if you have a valid workplace harassment case.

If you are facing a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Charge of Discrimination or contemplating a federal employment discrimination lawsuit, choosing the right legal representation is crucial. At Pietrucha Law Firm, we are committed to being your trusted partner throughout this challenging process, and we have the expertise and dedication needed to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests.

Gender-based harassment is a serious issue that affects individuals’ well-being and productivity in the workplace. Understanding the different forms of harassment and evaluating your specific situation is essential in determining if you have a potential workplace harassment case. If you believe you are experiencing gender-based harassment, consult with an experienced employment attorney to protect your rights and seek justice.

(Note: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with an employment attorney to discuss your specific situation and explore your legal options.)

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