Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
A legal claim for hostile work environment arises when an employer engages in unwelcome conduct relating to or motivated by a legally protected trait. Legally protected traits consist of such things as race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation . So, for example, making inappropriate sexual comments could give rise to a claim for hostile work environment based on gender, since gender is a legally protected trait.
It is important to understand that a claim only arises when the conduct relates to or is motivated by a legally protected trait. Other conduct, no matter how unprofessional, rude or disrespectful, is not against the law. There is no general "civility code" in employment. Harassment based on legally protected traits is the exception to this rule.
Poking you in the side and making fun of your weight in connection with inappropriate comments about woman in your store could give rise to a claim for hostile work environment. But it would be very difficult to tie the other behaviors to gender. General "disrespect" is not against the law. You'd have to prove it was occurring because you are a woman or due to some other legally protected trait, in which case it would be harassment motivated by a legally protected trait and potentially actionable.
It would be illegal to terminate you because you complained about illegal harassment (harassment based on gender), but it is unclear whether this is specifically what you complained about. More problematically, you indicate that you were not fired because you complained but rather due to inaccurate information related to the VP. It is not illegal to fire someone based on something that is untrue, since employment is at will absent an agreement to the contrary. You would have to prove that this stated reason for termination was merely a PRETENSE for terminating you due to your complaint about gender/sex harassment. Most problematically, though, you have been offered your job back but have refused to accept the position. This will disqualify you from collecting any sort of lost income, since you have voluntarily refused that income and plaintiffs always have an obligation to mitigate their damages. You would have to argue that the work environment was so completely unbearable that no reasonable person genuinely desirous of remaining employed would have done so, and that is a very high standard.
Without lost income, your only claim would be for emotional distress. Unless you have suffered a documented psychiatric injury (i.e. you have medical bills or have seen a psychologist), a claim for emotional distress is probably not worth very much.
In summary, there is potential for a claim based on sex/gender hostile work environment, but the damages are likely to be small. There are also issues with proof. If you desired to pursue such a claim, you certainly could by filing a complaint with the EEOC. This is a free administrative claims process, and there is generally not much of a downside by pursuing things this far. The EEOC will investigate and attempt to mediate a resolution (usually a monetary settlement) with your employer. That not forthcoming, they will either file a lawsuit on your behalf or issue you a "right to sue" letter, which will enable you to sue in civil court with the assistance of an attorney.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
* Disclaimer *
Just Answer is a venue for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by these communications.