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I work for a small company (~75 employees) and am the only…

I work for a...

I work for a small company (~75 employees) and am the only female member of our senior management team. I work directly under two men as the VP of the organization. All of our employees are female and we have no HR department. I have witnessed and been subjected to a lot of unprofessional behavior and have no resource to speak to. I love the company and do not want to leave, but have no idea what rights or recourse I have against belittling, threatening, and sexist comments.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

I am the VP and have no HR department

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

I am at will and work in Texas

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

The men are older (40’s) and our teams are generally young women. Our business caters largely to women.

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Answered in 8 minutes by:
3/23/2018
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 32,264
Experience: Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
Verified

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

If the owners of the company are making threatening, belittling, and sexist comments toward their female employees, that's a hostile work environment. You have a right under the law to work in a place where you are not discriminated against because of your gender - whether they know they're doing it intentionally or not. You can try talking to the men about the problem to see if they'll make efforts to change. Or you could look into having a local attorney send them a letter explaining the law and insisting that they make changes immediately.

It's possible that other women in the organization may be willing to join you to share the legal fees. But if you wind up having to sue for sexual harassment, the law allows you to recover legal fees from your employer. Note also that they cannot fire you in retaliation for you exercising your rights.

Have I answered your question? If any part of my response is unclear, please reply WITHOUT rating so I can clarify. My goal is to provide excellent service, so if I've done that, please give me a 5-star rating before signing out. Thank you for using JustAnswer.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you, Lucy. I am hopeful that I can address this without pursuing legal action. Is there specific language I should use when talking to them?

You're welcome.

The legal term is "hostile work environment." And it may help if you can give specific examples of sexist comments that made you or other people uncomfortable. If anyone else has mentioned this issue to you, you can report that as well. That might help.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
In the event that I resign or am terminated, do I have any rights?

It would be illegal for them to force you to resign or to terminate you for exercising your rights under federal law. You'd be able to sue for reinstatement, back pay, and punitive damages, plus attorney's fees - as long as you don't sign a waiver. If they try to force you to resign or fire you, they may try to offer you a severance package in exchange for agreeing not to sue. You'll want to take at least 24-48 hours to think about it before signing, and it's a good idea to have a local attorney read over anything they give you.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Is there any documentation that I should be collecting?

If you have any emails, memos, or other official communications that include sexist, threatening, belittling or inappropriate comments, you may want to print them out or send them to your personal email accounts so you can access them from home, just in case.

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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 32,264
Experience: Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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