Are Sexist Comments Considered Sexual Harassment?

There are laws in place to protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees federal laws and addresses complaints of inappropriate behaviors in the workplace.

Sexual harassment could include unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favors, or verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexist comments, such as offensive remarks about women in general, are illegal and are considered sexual harassment.

The laws do not require harassment to be of a sexual nature, but it can consist of offensive remarks about the sex of the individual. Remarks like “men are lazy” or “women are weaklings” could be offensive and classify as harassment.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you should follow proper procedure to file a complaint. The processes can be complex, so be sure to check how to get a claim filed through your place of employment. If the claim advances to the EEOC, it can be filed in writing or in person.

What Are Considered Sexist Comments?

Sexist comments are usually demeaning and disparaging remarks about someone’s gender. Sexist comments can be directed towards you and your gender or towards your gender in general.

Sexist comments generally play on various gender stereotypes. Inappropriate statements disguised as compliments can be considered sexist comments.

Comments about your appearance or tasteless jokes about gender can be considered sexist. Often times, individual that experience sexist comments in the workplace often experience it in the form of jokes.

Sexist jokes can be considered hostile. If sexist jokes are directed at you or if you witness it directed at someone else, that could be considered sexual harassment and you may want to file an employment law claim against your employer if nothing has been done to stop it.

Is Sexism Illegal?

Sexism in the workplace can represent an unlawful act if it involves gender discrimination. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against workers based on gender.

Gender discrimination can be easy to detect or subtle enough for other employees not to notice. In any form, gender discrimination is an act that creates a hostile workplace.

Here are a few examples of sexism in the workplace: Hiring a Less Qualified Job Candidate Hiring a less qualified job candidate from the other sex constitutes one of the most obvious examples of sexism at work.

Employers are prohibited from hiring job candidates based solely on gender or having gender contribute significantly to a hiring decision. Job candidates must be screened based on skills, education, and/or experience.

Unequal pay any states such as California make it illegal to pay one member of a gender more money for the same work performed by a member of another gender.

For example, an employer cannot pay a higher salary to a male for doing the same work as a female. This blatant form of sexism can lead to the filing of a discrimination complaint and even initiating of a civil lawsuit.

Exclusion: employers that segregate workers based on gender have committed acts of sexism.

Any type of segregation that gives preferential treatment to one gender over another is considered unlawful. For example, an employer that excludes women from working on certain projects is guilty of sexism in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment:  Sexual harassment is a common form of gender discrimination. As opposed to an employer firing you because of your gender, many types of sexual harassment are more subtle.

Some of the most common types of sexual harassment include sexual jokes, inappropriate physical contact, and request for sexual favors. The answer to the question, “Is sexism illegal” is yes if it happens in the workplace.

What Are Considered Sexual Comments?

Sexual comments are unwelcomed statements are remarks about a person’s sex. Sexual comments can range to comments about a person’s physical appearance or making sexual innuendos.

Often times those have experienced sexual comments in the workplace feel the pressure to either to tolerate this inappropriate behavior. Examples of sexual comments in the workplace include:

  • Unwelcome sexual teasing or gestures
  • Turning work discussions into sexual topics
  • Unnecessary and unwelcome sexual references

If your are receiving unwelcomed sexual comments at work and your employer has done nothing to stop the person who is saying that to you, you have the right to file an employment law sexual harassment claim against your employer so the harassment can finally stop.

Sexism at Work

Sexism and sexual discrimination often overlap with sexual harassment. You need to maintain supporting evidence and documentation, so you can take the proper action against your employer.

Sexism in the workplace is discrimination that is based on gender, and it can also be cultural attitudes and stereotypes that show favoritism to one gender over the other.

Sexism in the workplace can affect both women and men. Sexual harassment isn’t always obvious, as sexism can be subtle often in the form of sly comments and sexist jokes.

Sexist comments in the workplace may be considered sexual harassmentYou may not realize that this behavior could be classified as sexual harassment, which is prohibited by state and federal laws. If you are the victim of workplace sexism or sexual harassment, it could lead to professional damage – especially if you are being denied the opportunity to advance because of your gender.

If you have been the subject if jokes that are gender-based, or if you have heard sly comments that were inappropriate or sexist, you may have grounds to pursue a sexual harassment claim against your employer.

There are many forms that these sexist comments can take. For example, here are a few sexist comments that you may hear in the workplace.

“It must be that time of the month,” or “Your body is too beautiful for you to work here” are some comments that you may hear. Other comments may say “men are too strong to perform this kind of work” or “that isn’t man’s work.”

You should document any of these remarks that you hear. If there are digital records, memos, or emails that support your claim, you should provide copies of those to back up your claim.

How to Respond to Sexist Comments in the Workplace?

Unfortunately, sexism is present in all areas of life, especially in the workplace. Sexism affects women disproportionately more than any other gender.

If you are experiencing sexist comments in the workplace and you want to respond to those comments directly towards the person who is saying them to you.

Sexist comments in the workplace may be considered sexual harassmentIf you have had a sexist comment directed towards you at work, you have every right to feel shocked, insulted and angry about it. In the moment, it may be tough to do so, but try not to assume that the person who said the sexist comment to you knew it was in fact sexist.

A lot of people don’t understand how sexism works and how it effects certain genders. Explain to that person how that sexist comment made you feel and ask them a question like for example, “what did you mean by that?”

When you ask a question like that it will hopefully make them reflect on what they said how it made you feel. If you have experienced sexist comments in the workplace and have addressed it with the person who has been saying that to you, you should tell your direct supervisor about the situation.

If your employer does not address the situation and you are still experiencing sexist comments, that is grounds for sexual harassment, and you may want to file an employment law discrimination against your employer

Evidence and Pursuing a Claim

Always take notes and document any actions or comments that are offensive or that could be considered sexist. If there are witnesses be sure to make note of any witnesses as they will be needed to provide statements regarding what they heard and saw. The first step in filing a claim will be to notify a supervisor that ranks higher up or your company’s human resources department.

You should maintain evidence that shows you reported the incident, and then you should keep any documents that show how your employer responded.

If your employer doesn’t take action, or if the problem persists, you will then want to file a formal complaint with the EEOC or the state office. Evidence is a necessity for a successful claim, so be sure to maintain records, such as memos, emails, texts, and keep any digital images or audio recordings if they apply to your situation.

How an Attorney Can Help

Sexist comments in the workplace may be considered sexual harassmentSexual harassment claims can be complicated. If you have suffered sexual harassment or sexual discrimination in the workplace, you should enlist the help of an employment law attorney who handles such claims in your state.

With the help of a lawyer, you will be able to gather more supporting evidence and build a strong claim. Your attorney will also be familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to your situation.

When you talk with an attorney, they will review the details of your claim and they will determine the best way to proceed. You do have limited time to pursue a claim, and if you wait too long, you cannot recover compensation for your damages. To make sure your claim is handled promptly and professionally, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share details with a lawyer in your area.

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