When most employers or employees hear the term “sexual harassment” they assume harassment between individuals of the opposite sex. However, numerous federal courts across the country are finding sexual harassment can be based on “gender stereotyping” the victim.
For example, a group of male employees harass another male employee because he does not dress similar to the group, does not participate in the same hobbies or activities as the group, and has other tendencies the group deems “feminine.” The group bully the male employee, play pranks on him and often call him obscenities. This type of behavior can be held to constitute sexual harassment based on “sex” or more specifically, the gender of an individual employee.
Given recent rulings on this matter it is important for employers to identify this type of harassment, eliminate the behavior using all lawful means, and provide future instruction for management.