Can Berating Female Employees Create An Unlawful Hostile Working Environment?
For more than twenty years, our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida have fought for the rights of employees who have been required to work in a hostile environment. Through their decades of experience representing hostile work environment victims, our employment discrimination attorneys in Ocala, Florida know that a common employment law myth is that women are only protected from sexual harassing behavior that creates a hostile working environment. Under federal employment discrimination law, however, an unlawful hostile working environment is not limited to sexually harassing behavior. Rather, as the court in R & R Ventures, Inc., 244 F.3d 334 (4th Cir. 2001) observed, a work environment involving “remarks that intimidate, ridicule, and maliciously demean the status of women can create an environment that is as hostile as an environment that contains unwanted sexual advances.” Thus, as explained by the court in Carter v. Chrysler Corp., 173 F.3d 693 (8th Cir. 1999), female “employees are entitled to a workplace free of discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult motivated” by their sex or gender.
In this article, our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida explain how the decision in Smith v. Verge Mobile, Inc., Case No. 22-cv-00544 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 14, 2023) demonstrates that harassing behavior based on an employee’s sex or gender that creates a hostile working environment is prohibited by federal employment discrimination law.
Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
In that case, a woman named Smith brought a sex discrimination claim against her former employer, Verge Mobile, Inc. (“Verge Mobile”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. Under long standing law, harassment on the basis of sex or gender is a form of sex or gender discrimination prohibited by Title VII. To violate Title VII, harassment based on sex or gender must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment. Smith claims that she was harassed because of her sex or gender in violation of Title VII.
Verge is an authorized seller for T-Mobile cell phones. Smith worked for Verge as a district manager from January 2021 until the end of May 2021. As district manager, Smith was responsible for overseeing six stores, and the store manager at each store reported directly to Smith.
In February 2021, a man named Wall became Smith’s direct supervisor. Smith claims that Wall had issues with multiple female store managers and talked about wanting to “get rid of” them on a daily basis. Smith alleges that, on one occasion, Wall told her that he was going to make a female store manager cry so that she would quit. On another occasion, according to Smith, Wall told Smith: “this is why women should not be in your position.” Smith contends that, at other times, Wall berated her or would not allow her to take time off. Smith asserts that Wall regularly screamed at her and other female store mangers for tardiness, but refused to discipline male store mangers when they were late or did not show up for work. Smith claims that Wall’s alleged abusive behavior towards her and other female employees because of their sex or gender created a hostile working environment in violation of Title VII.
Smith maintains that she reported Wall’s alleged discriminatory harassment to management. Smith claims that after she complained to human resources, Wall’s harassment of her increased. In April 2021, after Smith informed Wall that she had reported his behavior to human resources, Smith became aware of her job being posted on Indeed. Smith alleges that, in May 2021, Wall told her to stop acting like a “battered women,” before he cornered her in a back room and yelled at her for 45 minutes to an hour while she was crying, and he was failing his hands in her face. Smith contends that, as a result of Wall’s alleged discriminatory harassment, she felt she had no other choice but to quit.
Women Targeted For Abuse
Verge Mobile filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Smith’s hostile work environment harassment claim. In seeking dismissal, Verge Mobile argued that the alleged harassment was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile working environment in violation of Title VII. The trial court denied Verge Mobile’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Smith was entitled to proceed to a jury trial on her hostile work environment harassment claim.
In denying Verge Mobile’s motion for dismissal, the trial court found that “there is evidence of pervasive sex based discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult for approximately three months.” In support of its finding, the trial court explained that “there is evidence that Wall talked, on a daily basis, about wanting to get ‘get rid’ of two female store managers, including telling Smith that he was going to make a female store manager cry ‘so she quits.’ ” The trial court also observed that there “is evidence that Wall told Smith: ‘this is why women should not be in your position’ and that ‘women are too emotional.’ ” The trial court further pointed out that there “is evidence that Wall regularly berated female employees, including Smith for minor infractions.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded, a jury could reasonably find that Smith was subjected to hostile work environment harassment based on her sex or gender in violation of Title VII.
Citrus County, FL Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our employment discrimination attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of hostile work environment victims. If you have been required to work in a hostile environment or have questions about your rights as a hostile work environment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.