Undermining employee: An adverse employment action?

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in Firing,Human Resources

To sue for discrimination, employees must prove the employer did something that amounted to an adverse employment action—a firing, demotion or some other act that substantially affected the terms and conditions of employment.

Do sexist comments that undermine a female employee’s authority constitute an adverse employment action?

Recent case: Betty Johnson worked as a jail deputy. Her boss constantly berated women, telling them they should stay barefoot and pregnant and making other misogynistic comments. Johnson said he undermined her authority.

The court told her that under the right circumstances, sexist comments that undermine authority might be adverse employment actions. However, in this case, there was no evidence the undermined authority actually resulted in harm. Had an inmate hurt her, she might have had a case. (Johnson v. City and County of Denver, No. 06-CV-02133, DC CO, 2008)

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