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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18814
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I am an inside sales manager in a small family owned

Customer Question

I am an inside sales manager in a small family owned company. A few months ago, a co-worker accidentally copied me on an email that he sent to another co-worker who is also his girl friend referring to me as "a f**king bitch". I immediately went to the company top manager with this. The employee was not fired. He was sent to classes. At first I was told how the company would not tolerate this, etc. But now, when I ask for help in day to day dealings with these two, I'm told to stop being so sensitive about things. Besides leaving the company, what are my next best moves?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 6 months ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

The problem here is that the employer took just enough action to be legally protected against any sort of claim by you with the EEOC. While the email was certainly offensive, nothing in the law mandates that the employer terminate someone for making such a comment. In fact, there are numerous cases at the Federal court level that indicate that a single incident of using a derogatory is not sufficient to establish a hostile work environment.

Chastising the employee and making him go to a class is a legally sufficient method of redress.

Now, if you are continuing to have issues with these people, you could attempt to argue that this is a continuing act of discrimination based on gender, but I don't really see that going very far. While the term used is commonly thought to be gender specific and derogatory, it is not necessarily an indication of gender specific discrimination. The matter may just be personal and have nothing to do with your gender, which is what they can argue, making this a matter of office politics and not gender discrimination. That would leave you with no real legal recourse here at all.

You could also try to make a case that your review is just a form of retaliation for having complained about gender discrimination. That could have some success, but only if you actually made a complaint specifically alleging gender discrimination. Even then, the employer can argue that they addressed that potential with appropriate action and are only now punishing you based your behavior. It would be a more difficult argument for them to make, but the point is that they still have a reasonable argument to make and so winning at trial would not be easy. It would only take one or two jury members to agree with the assertion that you are being over sensitive, whether or not that is true.

Regrettably, on these facts, I think the best you can do is to continue to complain as a means of setting up the ability to quit and get unemployment, by having at least established that the employer is not helping you deal with the continuing harassment of these individuals, regardless of the motivation behind that harassment.

You can always choose to make an EEOC complaint, alleging retaliation, and that alone could take some of the pressure off of you there for some time. It could even result in the offer of a settlement/severance to leave, but you have to fully commit to the argument that all of their treatment is motivated by your having complained of gender discrimination and now in retaliation for your having made that complaint.

If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 6 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required after the response I previously provided to you. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.

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