Unlike the classic Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are [not] A-Changin'.” Gender stereotypes are still out there and don’t appear to be leaving the workplace anytime soon.
Recently, a Los Angeles jury awarded a former police officer $7 million on her gender discrimination and harassment claims.
Lili Hadsell worked for the Baldwin Park Police Department for 14 years, eventually being appointed as police chief. Hadsell alleged that she was subjected to sex discrimination during her 14 years of service, especially during the over five years that she served as police chief.
According to reporting by the Los Angeles Times, other police officers made discriminatory comments about Hadsell’s role as chief. For example, Hadsell alleged that on her first day of work she heard a male officer state “I’ll never call that woman chief of police!”
Hostility against Hadsell’s position intensified, especially from her subordinate, Michael Taylor, who eventually replaced her, and from a city councilman, Ricardo Pacheco, who made comments such as “a woman cannot do this job” and that she “took Mike Taylor’s job.”
Taylor never even referred to Hadsell as “chief” which was the expected title. Instead, he only referred to her as “Lil” which she found disrespectful as it wasn’t her name, nor the expected manner in which a subordinate should address her. She also alleged that Taylor was constantly undermining and obstructing the things she was trying to accomplish.
In addition, some officers were also told to choose their loyalty wisely and not back Hadsell.
Hadsell made several complaints to her superiors. When Hadsell was eventually fired (allegedly without any explanation), she received a text from the mayor that said, “It was retaliation no doubt!!” Mike Taylor replaced her as police chief.
After deliberating for less than a day, the jury found for Hadsell and returned a verdict against the city for $7 million.
Just Say No to Gender Stereotypes
Sex or gender stereotyping occurs when conduct or personality traits are considered inappropriate simply because they may not conform to other people's ideas or perceptions about how individuals of either sex should act or look or what jobs they should hold.
- Harassing a person because that person does not conform to gender stereotypes is sexual harassment.—such as stereotyping “appropriate” looks, speech, personality or lifestyle.
- Harassment because someone is performing a job that is usually performed, or was performed in the past, by persons of a different sex, is sex discrimination.
- Harassment and discrimination based on someone’s gender, gender identity, gender expression or transgender status is unlawful under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Don’t leave your company “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Make sure you train your employees and emphasize that any type of gender discrimination or harassment – including stereotyping- is not allowed! Let CEA help you with all your training needs!