For harassment to qualify as sexual harassment it
must be because of sex. That means that the complained-of misconduct is of a
sexual nature, or it singles out women differently than men. Non-sex-based
conduct that targets women and men the same, no matter how harsh, is not sexual
harassment. Case in point? Miceli v. Lakeland Automotive Corp. (N.J. App. Div.
During her tenure at Lakeland Automotive, Diana Miceli
was its only female salesperson. Generally, she alleged that her manager
abused, belittled, and harassed her. She admitted, however, that the manager
treated the other salespeople (all male) the same way. Because the manager was
an equal-opportunity abuser, the court upheld summary judgment:
The sales manager's abrasiveness was not limited to
Miceli. In Miceli's deposition testimony she stated that "[e]veryone complained
about [the sales manager]." Miceli admitted that the sales manager treated
another male co-worker "extremely abusive[ly]" and "very condescending[ly]." ...
[T]here is no evidence to suggest that the ... conduct,
although rude and obnoxious, was motivated by gender. "Personality conflicts,
albeit severe, do not equate to" hostile work environment claims simply because
the conflict is between a male and female employee.
There is no law against being an ass, just against being
an ass based on some protected characteristic.
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