Sexist behavior in the workplace, such as a sexist comment, joke or discriminatory employment practice is offensive and unlawful. Although workplace sexism is a form of gender-based discrimination that disproportionately affects women, men can also experience occupational sexism. Left unchecked, sexist behavior can create a hostile work environment, interfere with an employee’s future prospects, and become a legal liability for an employer.
At Lipsky Lowe, we believe that everyone has a right to a work environment free from sexual harassment and discrimination, regardless of gender. If you have been victimized by sexism on the job, we will take the time to explain your rights, explore your options, and work diligently to protect your rights. Our team also provides defensive capabilities to businesses facing employment discrimination claims, and works with them to develop policies to mitigate sexist behavior in the workplace.
What is workplace sexism?
Sexual harassment in the workplace may involve demands for sex in exchange for a job or employment benefit (e.g. a raise, bonus, promotion), which is referred to a “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Another form of sexual harassment, known as “hostile work environment,” involves offensive comments, conduct or visual displays that interfere with an employee’s performance. Workplace sexism comes in a number of forms, including:
- Sexist Comments — Demeaning or degrading remarks about men or women, whether directed at the victim or about a person’s gender in general, inappropriate statements about an employee’s physical appearance (e.g. “you have a nice body”), remarks based on gender stereotypes (e.g. calling a female colleague “Honey”) or that objectify women or men.
- Sexist Jokes — Off-color jokes that are designed to intimidate, degrade or humiliate the recipient based on his or her gender, or that make the recipient feel uncomfortable. Sexual joking that creates a hostile or stressful environment may be grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Examples include: demeaning jokes based on gender, derogatory comments about someone’s sexuality or sexual orientation, sending sexual jokes or images through email, social media posts of a sexual nature, or sexual gifts.
- Sex Discrimination — The most blatant form of sexist behavior in the workplace is gender-based employment discrimination. This may involve being denied employment or a promotion, being paid less than members of the opposite sex performing the same job duties, or limiting an employee’s role due to his or her gender.
It is worth noting that sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as local and state laws in New York and New Jersey. Determining whether sexist behavior in the workplace constitutes sexual harassment can be difficult, however.
If a colleague calls you “Honey” once, or makes an off-hand comment about women, that may not be considered harassment. At the same time, condoning seemingly benign forms of sexism, such as calling women “girls” or protecting women from “masculine” tasks, could create an atmosphere that results in sex discrimination and harassment.
In any event, sexist behavior that is severe or pervasive enough to create an offensive or distressing work environment is unlawful. So, if you are afraid of going to work, or your job performance suffers, because of sexist behavior in the workplace, you may have a valid sexual harassment claim. Similarly, if an adverse employment action was taken against you based solely on your gender (e.g. firing, demotion, pay cut), you may have grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit. Ultimately, the best way to protect your rights is by working with the right employment law attorneys.
New York City Employment Law Attorneys
If you believe that you have been subjected to sexist behavior in the workplace, you may be confused and angry and not know where to turn. Remember, the legal team at Lipsky Lowe is here to help. We are dedicated to fighting for victims of occupational sexism and rooting out all forms of sexual harassment. Our attorneys are well-versed in the applicable local, state and federal employment laws and understand how those laws apply to sexist behavior in the workplace.
By conducting a thorough investigation, we will work strategically to protect your rights and hold the responsible parties accountable. Although we prefer to resolve sexual harassment claims through negotiation, we have the skills and experience to represent clients in administrative proceedings or in court. Above all, we will always put your best interests first and fight to help you obtain just compensation. Our legal team is also committed to helping business clients eliminate sexist behavior from the workplace and helping them create positive work environments. When you need strength in your corner, Lipsky Lowe is the experienced choice in employment law. Please contact our office as soon as possible to set up a consultation.