Equal-opportunity harassers, dirty old men, retaliation, and the "gender gap" on Wikipedia: pressing legal issues of the day

Latest dispatches from the employment law front:

If you're going to be an SOB, make sure you're an SOB to everybody. A federal district court in Kentucky granted summary judgment to the employer in a sexual harassment case. The female plaintiffs alleged that a charlatan "turnaround specialist" hired by their CEO was not "motivated by sexual desire" but was simply abusive and mean. The court found in favor of the employer based on the "equal opportunity harasser" concept: the evidence clearly showed that the "specialist" was abusive and mean to everybody, not just women. Among other things, he had "invited" the male production manager to step outside to the parking lot, presumably to fight. He had also cursed at another male employee, threatened him, and thrown a piece of paper in his face.

The "equal-opportunity harasser" concept is well established in the law because the essence of "discrimination" is to treat one group differently from others. If the plaintiffs could have shown that this consultant was a bully only to women, then they would have had a claim. But since he treated both sexes equally badly, he could not be found to have discriminated based on sex. For the same reason, the women's retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also failed -- because their complaints about the consultant were not complaints of sex

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Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP on:

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