Nathaniel Glasser Quoted in “‘Microaggressions’ at Work Can Lead to Harassment Lawsuits”

Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report

Nathaniel M. Glasser, a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report, in “‘Microaggressions’ at Work Can Lead to Harassment Lawsuits,” by Jay-Anne B. Casuga. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

A supervisor asks an Asian employee to help calculate a lunch delivery tip because he should be “good at math.” A manager assumes that a Hispanic worker speaks Spanish and asks her to translate something. A male employee laughs when he overhears two female co-workers discuss football.

These aren’t examples of blatant discrimination based on race, sex, or other characteristics protected by civil rights laws—and may even misguidedly be intended as compliments. But they could land as subtle “microaggressions” stemming from unconscious biases and stereotypes. If they occur frequently enough, microaggressions could lead workers to file harassment lawsuits against their employers.

“It’s possible depending on the nature and the extent of the microaggressions,” said Nathaniel M. Glasser, a management attorney with Epstein Becker Green in Washington. Glasser co-leads the firm’s Health Employment and Labor strategic industry group. “I think what employers first ought to look to is whether the microaggressions are causing a hostile work environment,” he told Bloomberg BNA. …

The word “microaggression” isn’t a legal term. So what is it exactly?

“In today’s lexicon, a microaggression is used to describe a slight, whether intentional or unintentional, against any socially marginalized group or protected group under the law,” Glasser said.