Could ‘mansplaining’ create a gender-bias claim? It’s direct evidence of it says one court!

If you’re: (a) new to social media; (b) don’t watch Jeopardy; or (c) haven’t hung out on Jezebel, you may be unfamiliar with what ‘mansplaining’ is.

Mansplaining defined.

Mansplaining is where a man explains something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

In Tucker v. Johnson (opinion here), the plaintiff alleged gender discrimination based on a number of events at work, one of which was, well…

  • She received a negative performance review, only weeks after she had received a commendation for her work. Then, after another negative review, she was fired.
  • Another male employee with “performance issues” was not fired.
  • Her male supervisor not only fired her, but mansplained her performance issues to her.

Technically, she didn’t actually use the word ‘mansplain,’ but read this part of the court’s opinion denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and see what you think?

Plaintiff testified that Rosene told her both in October 2009—right before Plaintiff’s first negative performance evaluation—and in March 2010—right before Plaintiff was terminated—that she “needed to get in her place” and that she should “learn her place.” Rosene also told her that he had a similar conversation with his daughters, telling them that they “have really got to learn their place.” 

I cleaned up the quote to improve readability. But, the mansplaining speaks for itself.

Indeed, taking the plaintiff’s version of the facts as true, which the Court must when ruling on the defendant’s motion, the Court concluded that a jury could interpret the mansplaining as “direct evidence of gender bias and thus the kind of evidence that generally will entitle a plaintiff to a jury trial.”

A workplace ban on mansplaining?

Well, Vox Media did it. (And, oh, the irony of Breitbart reporting it). But, whether you want to go as far as Vox Media, its policy highlights the importance of at least addressing microaggressions:


My friend, employment lawyer and blogger, Jonathan Segal, has a great article here on how to address microaggressions (mansplaining and otherwise) in your workplace.

Previously, I had assumed that mansplaining and other microaggressions alone would not suffice to state a claim for gender discrimination. It seems I was wrong.

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