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Misogyny in the Workplace

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Claims, Employment Practices Liability Coverage


Description

An established employee’s new boss asks her to take on added responsibility without increased compensation.

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Chronology of Events

During Rosemarie’s seventh year in the compliance department at Clark Medical Center (CMC), her manager was dismissed due to performance issues. In response, the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Jim, informed Rosemarie that he was assigning the departed manager’s work to Rosemarie and a (woman) co-worker, and they would report directly to him. This was not an official promotion: Rosemarie’s job grade was not adjusted, and her salary was unchanged.

 

Jim began texting Rosemarie about personal issues and, during their weekly meetings, veered off work issues to discuss his pending divorce and offered harsh comments about women. When Rosemarie suggested that such comments were inappropriate in a work setting, Jim said, “Yeah, women don’t like hearing the truth about other women. You’re all so emotional.”

 

Rosemarie told a colleague that she was irritated that she was taking on more work without a promotion and raise, and that meeting with Jim was uncomfortable. Her colleague responded: “He hates women, and he especially hates paying women more than men.” Other colleagues shared similar experiences and noted that Jim had several Human Resources (HR) complaints on file, but—as far as they knew—nothing had been done about it.

 

When Rosemarie asked Jim for a formal promotion and a raise to match her increased responsibilities, noting that male colleagues with less on their plate earned 30 percent more than she did, he groaned. “Fine,” he said, “but no retroactive pay or extra vacation days, and don’t complain about this to HR.”

 

When Rosemarie saw her next paycheck, her raise was dramatically less than she expected. She did contact HR and explained the problem with her pay. She also mentioned Jim’s inappropriate comments and what she’d heard from her co-workers. The HR representative told Rosemarie that any prior complaints against Jim would be privileged information. The HR rep encouraged Rosemarie to shift to another department or facility in the CMC system. Her complaint against Jim was not pursued.

 

Two days after her meeting with HR, Jim informed Rosemarie that she wasn’t doing enough extra work to justify her raise. He told her she could stay on at her prior wage or leave. Instead, Rosemarie filed a claim alleging gender discrimination, a hostile work environment, and violation of the Equal Pay Act. She demanded a severance package and a guarantee of being rehired elsewhere in the CMC network.

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Complaint

Rosemarie filed a complaint with the state discrimination board alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

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Disposition

This case was settled on behalf of the medical center with a payment to Rosemarie.

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Discussion Points

  1. What is the impact of Rosemarie’s colleagues sharing that nothing had been done about prior HR complaints against Jim?
  2. When Rosemarie contacted HR about her pay discrepancy, was the decision not investigate, but to suggest she shift to another department or facility appropriate?
  3. Was rescinding Rosemarie’s raise after she lodged a complaint with HR, justified because she was not doing enough work to justify a pay increase, or retaliation?

Learn more about Employment Practices Liability

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March 25, 2022
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