What Is Gender Harassment?

Employees in California have many legal protections under state and federal workplace harassment laws. California is one of the most progressive states in terms of employee rights. Unfortunately, issues such as gender harassment still pervade workplaces. If you are facing gender harassment at work, learn what you can do to seek justice and hold someone accountable.

Gender Harassment, Defined

Gender harassment describes continually taunting or persecuting an individual because of his or her gender or gender identity. It can also refer to an isolated event if the event was severe. Gender harassment can take the form of offensive remarks, sexism, lewd jokes, degradation, derogatory name-calling, demeaning or belittling someone, or physical assault.

Sexist Hostility

Gender harassment is an umbrella term that can encompass many specific types of sexual harassment or discrimination that people face due to their genders, gender identities or gender expressions. One is sexist hostility, also called hostile sexism. This is sexism against people who do not conform to traditional gender roles.

Hostile sexism is most commonly against women who do not conform to traditional female dress, mannerisms, actions or behaviors – often based on the belief that these women want to control or manipulate men. Hostile sexism can describe any type of attitude or action that is negative, angry or antagonistic against someone who deviates from gender norms.

Crude Harassment

Crude harassment is another type of gender harassment. It refers to the use of sexually crude terms to denigrate or belittle a victim based on that person’s gender. They are obscene, rude or slanderous terms intended to insult a victim based on his or her gender.

Although anyone can experience crude harassment based on gender in the workplace, it is more common among certain subgroups. For example, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and women who are masculine in their behaviors or appearance are more likely to experience crude harassment and sexist hostility than other women. Similarly, men who are transgender, gay or feminine experience sexual harassment more often than other men.

Transgender Employees and Harassment

Transgender employees are in the high-risk category for workplace gender harassment. Sadly, many workers in California have to deal with overt transphobia in the workplace. Transphobia can take many forms, including:

  • Refusing to hire someone because he or she is transgender.
  • Demoting or firing a transgender individual for coming out or transitioning.
  • Creating a workplace dress code that intentionally discriminates against a protected class.
  • Refusing access to a common restroom that corresponds with the worker’s gender identity.
  • Excluding a transgender individual from work events or special projects.
  • Verbally harassing a transgender person.
  • Making offensive comments, remarks or jokes.
  • Physically or sexually assaulting a transgender worker.
  • Encouraging a hostile work environment.

If you experienced or witnessed any form of transgender harassment at your workplace in Los Angeles, take action. You may have the power to protect the victim and make a real change in your institution.

What to Do If You Experience Gender Harassment

  1. Report it. Do not ignore what is happening to you or keep it a secret. Let someone know – particularly, an employer or manager in your workplace.
  2. Document it. Record the incident(s) of gender harassment by describing what happened in detail. Write down names, witnesses, times, dates and places.
  3. Be direct. When dealing with your harasser, be direct and affirmative. Say no and refuse to participate or accept gender-based biases, exclusions, phobias and sexism.
  4. File a formal claim. If your employer fails to resolve the issue, file an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You can also talk to a union representative if you are part of a union.
  5. Get help. If gender harassment has affected you mentally, emotionally or psychologically, get help from a certified mental health professional. Keep copies of bills and documents related to your medical care.
  6. Hire an attorney. Consult an Los Angeles gender discrimination attorney for legal assistance. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against your employer.