January 4, 2013

"In the case of the male vegetarian, what may look like vegetarian or sexual orientation discrimination is really sex discrimination in the form of gender stereotyping..."

Says the abstract for a law review article titled "Of Meat and Manhood," which has led to a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against the author:
New Jersey banker Robert Catalanello on December 28 sued Zachary Kramer, an associate dean at Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law....

The article cites former employee Ryan Pacifico's 2009 complaint against Catalanello, including a charge that he made numerous derogatory comments equating Pacifico's vegetarianism with homosexuality. "You don't even eat steak dude. At what point in time did you realize you were gay?" he said, according to Pacifico's complaint....
"Catalanello harassed Pacifico not because Pacifico is vegetarian, but because Pacifico was not sufficiently masculine," reads one passage that Catalanello cited. "The key here is that vegetarianism acts as a proxy for effeminacy."
Defamation? Presumably, Catalanello disputes Pacifico's allegations and doesn't like the way Kramer, in at least one part of his article, presents the allegations without saying something like "according to Pacifico's compliant."

Here's the "Meat and Manhood" article. More from the abstract:
[Current doctrine says] that an employee cannot raise an actionable theory of sex discrimination to “bootstrap” protection for an unprotected trait.... By focusing on the male vegetarian case study – which involves allegations of vegetarian, sexual orientation, and gender-stereotyping discrimination – the Article argues that sex discrimination often manifests as other forms of bias.
That is, the law doesn't give special protection to you because you're a vegetarian, but it does let you sue for sex discrimination. So the litigant tries to present anti-vegetarian animus as a matter of gender. That's an interesting problem of employment discrimination law, but think about why the courts don't approve of this "bootstrapping."

(Via Taxprof.)

22 comments:

LL said...

Does insufficient masculinity rise to the level of sexual harassment in case law?

Shouting Thomas said...

Vegetarians can be, and have been in my experience, extraordinary pains in the ass in the work environment. They are often sanctimonious prigs who love drawing attention to their halos.

I can understand, although I might not approve of it, wanting to poke fun at them. It gets tiring listening to their BS. Many of them do, in fact, need to eat a fucking steak. The "that's so gay" jab is actually pertinent. A lot of the real pain in the ass vegetarians are young women just out of college who are also demonstrative, sanctimonious fag hags. So, there is a nebulous connection.

I've worked with Indian programmers who grew up vegetarians because of their religion, and they never made an issue of it or made a pain in the ass out of themselves talking about it.

What about the rights of a worker or manager to not have to suffer through 8 hours a day of listening to some preening, sanctimonious asshole? People get tired of that shit.

TMink said...

Would truth be a valid defense? "Dude, you are a wuss. Case dismissed" says the judge?

I mean I am fat, isn't it a sign of maturity that I don't think of suing someone when they mention that truth?

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

Think about why it's considered sexual harassment to to pressure a female employee to be stereotypically feminine.

Shouting Thomas said...

Think about why it's considered sexual harassment to to pressure a female employee to be stereotypically feminine.

Could be a mixed bag. Could, in some instances, reflect badly on the employer. In other instances, it could reflect badly on the employee.

For instance, Myrna and I tried to work with a female bass player for a while. She was a dyke, which was OK, but she refused to pretty herself up for gigs, which wasn't.

Some jobs demand that a woman appear to be "stereotypically female." Only in a spoiled brat society would somebody think that they have the right to that job, and the right to refuse to conform to the demands of the job.

Ann Althouse said...

@Shouting There's an exception where it's a bona fide part of the job. That's not what I'm talking about.

Shouting Thomas said...

And, Althouse, here's something for your to consider...

I'd bet your worldview is shaped by working in a big office with a nice view that you have all to yourself.

In other words, you're not dealing with life in the cube farm, and the godawful problems of dealing with some preening, sanctimonious asshole.

MisterBuddwing said...

Ahem!

mikee said...

So the suit was just filed.

Althouse links the story because it is an example of possible bootstrapping of non-protected categories into current discrimination law.

When this case gets decided, I hope there is a followup. Otherwise, this post is just empty calories, vegetarian or otherwise, gender of plant or animal not pertinent.

edutcher said...

The Mountain Men lived entirely almost on meat.

(Godwin Alert) was a vegetarian.

Draw your own conclusions

BarrySanders20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarrySanders20 said...

Prince Fielder calls bullshit.

rcommal said...

Analyzing cases and discussing their broader implications is the foundation of legal scholarship, but a lawsuit claims that one professor's take on a pending employment discrimination case constituted defamation and invasion of privacy.

So, the prof's being sued stems from some academic analysis he published?

That's...interesting. Think of the implications!

ambienisevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sabeth.chu said...


anyhow, does this dude think he will have an easier time at his workplace after he has gone to court?

why not try to make friends, or something?

for goodness sake!

Sam L. said...

Well, yesterday I saw a couple walk into a store. First glance from behind the row of carts: man and woman. Next: 2 women, one with very short hair, black leggings, short denim skirt. Then I heard a man's voice. Up closer, pretty sure that was a man. Didn't feel the need to get closer or examine more closely.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Some people assume any given dog is male and any given cat is female.

Mary Beth said...

Ann Althouse said...

Think about why it's considered sexual harassment to to pressure a female employee to be stereotypically feminine.

1/4/13 7:22 AM


I'm still not sure what to think about a dentist firing an employee for being too attractive.

Maybe employment agencies should just match people up based on looks rather than skills.

RichardS said...

A friend of mine thinks we need "insensitivity training." We need to learn to have thicker skin, and accept that harsh words will be spoken, and mockery will happen.
I am inclined to agree.

And it's worth noting that there is, after all, a difference between complimenting or criticizing a woman's looks or manner and pressuring her to have sex. Given the presumption of innocence, the presumption should be that sexual jokes, etc. are just meant to be jokes, unless there is strong proof that there's more going on.

Scott M said...

Gay because he's a vegetarian? Ridiculous and ignorant. The one absolutely die-hard vegetarian that I know is absolutely not gay. He's a pedophile. But NOT gay.

Vegaia said...

There are many reasons why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org/.

kentuckyliz said...

Life affirming choice? Gag. You're making our point.