EEOC data shows that the total number of charges of discrimination in the workplace based on “age,” “national origin” and “religion” have risen dramatically since 1997. And Judging from the rapid growth of “retaliation” claims, it looks like speaking out still carries great risks.
On the other hand retaliation can open a new door. Tracy Hallstrom was unsuccessful when she sued BLM for sexual harassment but won her retaliation case. [See snapshot of EEOC statistics below]
Here’s an interesting case that involved Bullying:
EEOC and Christopher v. National Educ. Ass’n – Alaska, 422 F.3d 840 (9th Cir. 2005)
The Commission filed a Title VII suit against a teachers’ union alleging that three women working in the union office were subjected to a hostile work environment based on sex by the abusive, albeit nonsexual, behavior of a union official. The official engaged in a consistent pattern of abusive behavior, including constant yelling with profanity, shaking his fists in his employees’ faces, hurling accusations about work problems, and stomping down the hallways, red-faced with rage. The district court granted summary judgment for the union on the ground that the Commission had failed to establish that the official’s bullying conduct was because of sex, since he abused both men and women and there was no evidence that his behavior was “motivated by lust” or reflected “sexual animus toward women as women.” On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that regardless of the harasser’s motives, there was sufficient evidence of qualitative and quantitative differences in the harassment suffered by female and male employees to warrant a trial on the issue of sex discrimination. The court pointed out that the case “illustrate[d] an alternative motivational theory in which an abusive bully takes advantage of a traditionally female workplace because he is more comfortable when bullying women than when bullying men.” The court concluded that “[t]here is no logical reason why such a motive is any less because of sex” than lust or animus. The court stressed that harassment need not be motivated by sexual desire, nor must plaintiffs show that the harasser “had a specific intent to discriminate against women or to target them ‘as women,'” because “Title VII is aimed at the consequences or effects of an employment practice and not at the . . . motivation of co-workers or employers.” In short, the court held that motivation is not the issue but rather whether the conduct “affected women more adversely than it affected men,” a question to be decided by the jury in this case.