When Bullying Becomes A Case of Sexual Harassment
Don’t get too comfortable too quickly when there is bullying in your workplace.
I’ve often gotten the impression that companies can relax when the bully doesn’t appear to be intending to discriminate against women (or men for that matter).
What seems to often be assumed is that as long as the manager or supervisor is “just” generally abusive, profane, or vile, a sexual harassment charge won’t stick. Now, AHI Publications provides information about a case that suggests companies need to be more careful.
In this case, the manager just seemed (on the surface) to be a nasty, rude, and mean person. He apparently screamed and yelled a lot at employees, would turn colors as he yelled, and employees even claimed they could feel his spit when he shouted. He even shook his fist at employees and scared them a lot!
Although the sexual harassment suit was rejected at the district court, the 9th Circuit court ruled that:
“Harassing conduct does not have to be motivated by lust or blatant misogyny to be illegal sex discrimination.”
In fact, the district court noted that it used an:
alternative motivational theory in which an abusive bully takes advantage of a traditionally female workplace because he is more comfortable when bullying women than when bullying men.
Companies: Don’t take it for granted that bullying, overly rude, and obnoxious behavior will avoid a label of sexual harassment.
Prevent that kind of behavior in the workplace and avoid expensive lawsuits and out-of-court settlements!