Some supervisors are secret sexists. A few even try to discriminate based on sex. But a boss’s secret prejudice won’t support an employee’s sex-bias lawsuit if the employer provides equal opportunities to both men and women. That’s true even if the sexist boss reacts outrageously when the subordinate quits.
Recent case: Krysten Overly worked as a financial advisor for a bank. Her regional supervisor was a man. When he realigned sales territories, hired a new male financial advisor and implemented other changes, Overly resigned. She believed that she was being discriminated against on the basis of her sex.
Her supervisor’s response when she tendered her resignation was to clap. He then grabbed Overly by the arm and pushed her out the door, yelling “Good riddance, bitch!”
Overly sued, alleging sex discrimination and hostile work environment.
But the court said she couldn’t use what happened after she quit to prove she worked in a hostile environment before she quit. Plus, she had no evidence the reassignment and other changes were related to sex, nor that she lost any income as a result. (Overly v. Keybank National Association, et al., No. 10-2705, 7th Cir., 2011)
Final note: Of course, you probably would not want to let the supervisor’s actions go unpunished. If nothing else, his actions were inappropriate and unprofessional—and may even be a sign of other, deeper problems. Other employees observing the incident might very well think they worked in a hostile environment.
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