No good things ever come from gossip. In the case of workplace rumor mills, gossip can harm someone both emotionally and professionally. Every workplace has the duty to ensure a safe environment free from abuse, including gender-based rumors which can contribute to a hostile work environment.
Gender-Based Rumors and Sexual Harassment
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sexual harassment in the workplace can include any conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Examples of sexual harassment can include sexual comments or gender-based rumors regarding an employee. Stating that a woman “slept her way to the top” absolutely constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace. In fact, a California court specifically ruled that when an employer participates in any false rumors regarding a female employee and her boss, they are guilty of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
California’s Anti-Discrimination Laws
The federal government, as well as state law, protects workers from sexual discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Additionally, the EEOC has laws regarding sexual harassment as previously indicated. However, even with all of the laws in place making sexual discrimination and hostile work environments illegal, both men and women, according to the EEOC, continue to face challenges regarding sexual discrimination in the workplace.
Gender Stereotyping and Sexual Discrimination
Specifically, gender stereotypes can directly result in sexual discrimination. Women or men who fail to conform to traditional standards of their gender, often suffer as a result of gender-based rumors and gossip in the workplace. Additionally, some gays and lesbians have also suffered in workplaces where gossip or gender-based rumors surrounding what employers consider to be appropriate gender identity expressions exist. Any form of sexual harassment based on gender stereotyping or the existence of any gender-based rumors is illegal under federal and state law because they create a hostile work environment.
Suggestions for Employers
If you are an employer in the State of California, you should proactively tell your employees that your workplace will not tolerate any gender-based rumors or any type of sexual discrimination. Implement a “no-gossip” policy and try to encourage workers to keep their private lives private. Always set a positive example as a manager in the workforce and encourage your employees to always visit with you regarding any instances of sexual discrimination or gender-based rumors they experience. As a manager or employer, always make sure your door is open to your employees and allow them full and easy access to file any complaints of sexual or gender harassment.
Contact California Employment Counsel, APC
If you suffered from gender-based rumors that led to sexual harassment in the workplace, you have protections under both state and federal law. You have the right to a workplace free from hostility and fear. Our experienced attorneys can help you through this process, and help you build a strong sexual harassment case. Contact us online or call 714-462-3641 to discuss your legal rights today.