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Sexual orientation discrimination and harassment: Stereotypical comments about an employee’s masculinity/femininity, mannerisms, or attire are discriminatory, whether or not the employee is gay

Negative comments about an employee’s masculinity or femininity, or statements that an employee’s attire or mannerisms are “flamboyant,” are more than just offensive sexual connotations.  When these comments are frequent and pervasive, they support a claim for gender discrimination as well as sexual orientation discrimination and harassment, whether or not the employee is gay.

In one such recent case, the employer argued that the harassment could not have been that bad because the employee’s performance did not suffer.  The federal court in Massachusetts flatly rejected this argument. It recognized that performance is not the sole indicator of whether an employee is subject to a hostile work environment.  The employee’s ability to do his job, despite this conduct, did not relieve the employer from liability.  Negative treatment of an employee because of gender stereotypes and/or sexual orientation can be used to pursue a claim for illegal discrimination.  Griffin v. Adams and Associates of Nevada.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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