What are my options if I experience sexism in the workplace?

By Douglas Lipsky

If you’re experiencing sexism in the workplace, you really have a number of options available to you and most of these should be laid out in your employer’s policy, which you should have received as part of your employment onboarding and also periodically throughout your employment. Your first option is always, you can confront the person who has offended you. Tell them to stop their actions, stop the language whatever it is that they’re doing that would be offensive to you. Although I know a lot of people are not, certainly not comfortable with that. So it’s definitely an option, but it’s not one that you have to take if you don’t feel comfortable. Another option if you’re experiencing sexism in the workplace is to go and speak to your supervisor. Almost every company I’ve ever seen allows you to complain to a supervisor if you feel you’re being the victim of some kind of sexism. Again you may not feel comfortable with that because the person perpetrating the sexism on you may be your supervisor. If that’s the case, generally speaking, you can go to any other supervisor, manager, officer of the company to report including people like the CEO and the president and of course HR is definitely an option.

Outside of those internal complaint procedures, there are agencies, public agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the New York State Division of Human Rights, who you can complain to. Our recommendation is before you go there you should probably talk to an employment lawyer and before you go to either of those agencies you should have already complained internally. Don’t let your first complaint about this situation be to an agency. And then one other option for people if the sexism is particularly egregious, if it involves things like unwelcome touching, things of that nature, then you may also want to file a police report.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.