Gender harassment, or gender-based harassment, is a form of sex discrimination. It occurs when one person harasses another person for reasons relating to their gender or the gender with which they identify.
The harassment conduct, however, does not need to be based on anything of a sexual or sexual nature. Instead, gender harassment generally involves stereotypes according to the roles and functions associated with a particular gender.
For example, any insulting remarks made towards a person simply because they are a woman, would be considered a form of gender harassment.
Gender harassment is sometimes difficult to identify. Oftentimes it gets confused with sexual harassment, but again, the behavior of the harasser does not need to be sexual in nature. The behavior of the harasser just needs to be something that creates a hostile work environment for people of a specific gender.
In addition, workplace gender harassment laws are very similar to Title IX laws, which prevent gender harassment and discrimination in school settings. When set in an employment or workplace environment, gender harassment can show up as offensive actions between two or more co-workers, a supervisor and a subordinate, and in many other scenarios.
Along with federal laws, nearly all states have some version of a statute in place to prevent gender harassment from happening and to protect its victims. This type of behavior is considered a violation of your civil rights.
What are Some Examples of Gender Harassment?
Claims for gender harassment in the workplace can cover a broad range of conduct. This behavior may include actions, such as the following examples:
- Inappropriate displays of material that offends a particular gender (e.g., an insulting comic or other type of graphic or visual content);
- Comments or remarks made that are an affront on a specific gender, such as an inappropriate joke or story (especially, if they are directed at a particular person or group of persons);
- Insults or derogatory actions directed towards a person solely because of their gender;
- Remarks that continue to be made even after the person has requested them to stop making such comments, or has indicated to the alleged harasser that they are offensive;
- Actual physical contact, assault, or interference with the person based on having issues with the individual’s gender; and
- Even labeling an individual with a gender-offensive nickname simply because of how they identify.
Although the above list does include most of the primary examples of what can be considered to be gender harassment, each case can vary depending on its facts as well as the statutes that have been enacted to protect against it in each state.
Are There Any Legal Remedies for Gender Harassment?
A lawsuit centered on gender harassment can result in various outcomes for the parties, including providing certain damages awards for the plaintiff, such as the following remedies:
- Removal or termination of the individual responsible for the harassment (i.e., the alleged harasser);
- Damages for losses caused by the gender harassment incident, such as lost wages or lost business opportunities; and
- Changes in company workplace policies.
In many instances, gender harassment will also involve some elements found in lawsuits for gender discrimination. In such cases, the legal remedies available may include:
- Reinstatement of the victim to their prior job role (for example, if the discrimination or harassment led to a termination of the harassed worker); or
- An investigation into the workplace environment led by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) (since filing with the EEOC is often a requirement for discrimination cases before a lawsuit can be filed with a court).
Finally, some gender harassment cases may be filed as a class action lawsuit if a significant number of employees have been affected by the same issue.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Gender Harassment Claims?
Gender harassment in the workplace is a very serious issue that often requires an individual to take legal action against their harasser. In addition to a gender harassment claim, there may be other areas of law that overlap with your case and may help you to secure further damages.
Thus, it may be in your best interest to hire a local attorney who specializes in harassment claims if you plan on filing such a lawsuit.
An experienced harassment attorney will be able to conduct legal research and provide legal advice on the laws that apply to your matter. From their research findings, an attorney will also be able to determine what course of legal action is best suited for your particular situation and whether or not you have a claim to bring to court.
Additionally, an attorney can also help you with the process of preparing the required documents and filing a claim with the EEOC. Alternatively, an attorney can provide legal representation on your behalf in court if a trial becomes necessary.
Finally, a qualified attorney will be able to assess and predict what damages you may be able to recover from your case.