Women in male-dominated jobs at high risk for sexual harassment
For all the progress we have made as a society, there are still many industries that are male-dominated and generally unfriendly to women who want to join. The women brave enough to cross the gender barrier and perform such work often have an unnecessarily difficult time earning the respect of their male colleagues. They may also be subjected to sexual harassment on the job.
Construction (including the skilled trades) is an example of an industry where female workers are definitely in the minority. Although not all women in construction face discrimination and harassment, the percentage of those who do is unacceptably high.
One recent case occurred in Texas, but the details are similar to cases from here in California and around the country. Late last month, a female welder filed a lawsuit against her former employer. She was fired just one month after being hired for a job that was supposed last two years. She alleges that her firing and the treatment she received leading up to it were retaliation for refusing sexual advances and flirtations from her boss.
According to news sources, the plaintiff was hired in February 2013. Shortly after starting the job, a workday was either cancelled or cut short due to bad weather. Because of the free time, she and other employees agreed to meet at a local bar.
It was at this impromptu work outing that her boss allegedly began flirting with her. After she left the bar, the woman said, he even followed her out to her car and asked if she wanted to “fool around,” to which she answered no.
After that day, the plaintiff’s work was allegedly subjected to much more scrutiny than that or her male colleagues. She said she also endured inappropriate and/or disparaging comments about her appearance and her work.
She was fired without stated cause in March 2013. After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company allegedly explained that attendance and work-quality issues were the reasons she was fired.
There are, of course, two sides to every story. That being said, the details provided here are sadly familiar to many women who have worked as construction workers, firefighters, police officers and any other jobs traditionally considered “men’s work.” Hopefully, the struggles of these women will ultimately lead to more respectful work environments in these fields.
Source: The Southeast Texas Record, “https://setexasrecord.com/stories/510623460-female-welder-sues-former-employer-for-sexual-harassment” Female welder sues former employer for sexual harassment, Thomas Kallies, Mar. 6, 2014