Friday, July 26, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #118 - Part 3

Good news: landmark sex discrimination decision in NJ Supreme Court

Related to a different form of sexism, if sexist comments about women are made in a workplace, but no woman is around to hear them, is it still discrimination? According to a landmark decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the answer is "yes."

UPS manager Michael Battaglia was so disturbed by the pattern of lewd remarks about female employees made by his boss in all-male meetings that he repeatedly complained to his superiors.

He got a response: He was demoted. Nothing happened to his boss. He sued for retaliation even as he continued to work at the lower position.

He sued under a state law that bans workplace discrimination based on things like gender, religion, and race. In 2009, a jury decided in his favor and awarded him a million dollars - half for economic damages, and half for emotional distress.

The company appealed and the appeals court reversed, ruling that Battaglia was not protected for discrimination under the law for complaining about vile comments made against women in the workplace because no woman heard them. That is, he couldn't complain about sexism against women because he's a man.

However, on July 17, the NJ Supreme Court sided with Battaglia, recognizing the importance of the point of "a hostile work environment" and reaffirmed the $500,000 in economic damages, sending the issue of damages for emotional distress back to a jury.

So yes, you can be offended by sexism - even if you're a man.


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