"[S]houting, 'screaming,' foul language, invading employees' personal space ... and [making] threatening gestures" is now enough to get sued for gender-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though such actions were not overtly motivated by the victims' gender. So says the Ninth Circuit in its opinion in the case Christopher v. National Education Association.
The case wouldn't normally be remarkable because such behavior would be sufficient to create a hostile environment. Now that it's been linked to gender-based discrimination, we have a new, hybrid cause of action.
In its short, 13-page opinion, the Ninth Circuit unanimously sent this case back to Alaska courts for further proceedings. The Ninth Circuit provided some guidance to deal with its reversal of the summary judgment in favor of the defendant supervisor. "We hold that offensive conduct that is not facially sex-specific nonetheless may violate Title VII if there is sufficient circumstantial evidence of qualitative and quantitative differences in the harassment suffered by female and male employees." In other words, go look for it, and if you find it, find in favor of the employee.
Now, the screaming supervisor will defend his actions once again. Hostility can be sexually based.
The lesson? Be careful how you say what you say to your employees.