A salesperson named Jo was the only female employee of a car dealership. She recently sued her employer. Jo claimed that her manager was abusive and dismissive towards her. She also complained that he publicly belittled her, and generally had rage issues.
In a case like this, the law requires that the employee must prove that the offensive behavior was so severe or pervasive that it created a hostile working environment. The employee must also show that the bad conduct was based on her gender.
The trial judge decided against the female employee. The judge ruled that there is a difference between rude behavior, and discrimination based upon sex. Here, the manager’s consistently rude and impolite comments were apparently directed at all employees, not just at the lone female worker. Thus, the offensive conduct wasn’t based on the employee’s gender.
Jo appealed to an appellate court. Unfortunately for her, the higher court agreed with the trial judge.
I think there’s a lesson that we all need to take away from this case: If you want to be a jerk, it’s OK legally, so long as you're a jerk to everyone.
Marc S. Berman is an attorney with offices in Fair Lawn and Paramus. Disclaimer: The articles posted here are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as legal advice for specific cases. Readers should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information presented here, but rather should retain an attorney to advise them.