The scenario: The only woman on a work crew wanted to perform all different types of job duties, including those that were potentially dangerous.
However, her male supervisor didn’t think she should be allowed to work at an elevated location. He said she wasn’t permitted to do so because she had “t-ts and an a-s.”
In addition to the restrictions on the types of jobs the woman was allowed to handle, she was also sexually harassed.
One day, a male coworker texted a photo of his genitals to her and asked her to send him a photo of her breasts. She turned down his request, then deleted his offensive photo right away.
A short time later, the same male coworker asked whether he could grab or squeeze the woman’s breasts, then said she was in her “sexual prime.”
The woman complained about the offensive conduct, but she was ignored.
When the woman later missed a day of work without authorization, she was fired. Even though the employer had a three-strikes attendance policy, the female staffer was terminated based on only one attendance infraction.
Legal challenge: The woman sued for gender discrimination.
The ruling: The employer lost. The court said the woman endured gender discrimination. Not only was she forbidden from handling certain jobs because of her gender and then sexually harassed, but the company also disregarded her complaints, noted the judge.
The skinny:Steer clear of assumptions about what people can and can’t do based on gender. Allow everyone a chance to perform all the job duties for which they’re qualified, regardless of gender.
Cite: Wallace v. Performance Contractors, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals 5, No. 21-30482, 1/3/23.
(From the March 31, 2023, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)