Category Archives: Hostile environment

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Ostracism and petty mistreatments may collectively rise to the level of hostile work environment.

A female plumber on “light duty” in the City of Chicago’s Department of Sewers filed a lawsuit alleging that because she was female, her supervisor assigned menial work to her, prohibited her coworkers from interacting with her, and subjected her to alleged “verbal violence.” While the district court viewed each of those actions individually and … Continue Reading

One federal appellate court outlines parameters for “hostile work environment” claim.

One of the issues most frequently litigated in employment cases is whether the remarks and actions of an employer rise to the level of the “hostile work environment” needed to support a claim of discrimination. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed that issue, and provided at least some clarity to the definition, … Continue Reading

All federal court circuits now recognize a cause of action for “retaliatory hostile work environment.”

Most employers understand that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act precludes a discriminatory “hostile work environment,” in which acts of discrimination against an employee are so severe and pervasive that those acts have an adverse impact on the employee’s ability to do his or her job. What is less fully understood is the fact … Continue Reading

Sexual innuendos and demeaning comments cost employer $1.6 Million.

In gender discrimination cases under Title VII, a jury can award back pay and front pay, but also can award compensatory damages if it believes that an employee was harmed emotionally or psychologically by the alleged harassment or hostile work environment. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $1.6 Million damages award … Continue Reading

First Circuit holds that Title VII does not protect employees from the “ordinary slings and arrows that suffuse the workplace every day.”

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reminds us that while Congress’ antidiscrimination laws are designed to protect workers’ rights, they are “not intended to function as a collective panacea for every work-related experience that is in some respect unjust, unfair, or unpleasant.” Consistent with this statement, the court dismissed the claims of four female … Continue Reading

Employer’s continuing efforts to resolve issues complained of by employee supports dismissal of discrimination complaint.

  In an unpublished opinion, the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss an employee’s claims of discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation, based largely upon the “extraordinary lengths” to which the employer went to investigate the issues complained of by the employee. Wood v. University of Pittsburgh, 3d … Continue Reading

Failure to keep complainant informed of remedial measures may indicate insufficient employer response to harassment.

An employer’s failure to keep an female employee apprised of its response to her complaints of sexual harassment, and its further failure to follow through on remedial actions could lead a reasonable jury to find that the employer did not take the complaints seriously. Such failures form the basis of a recent decision by the … Continue Reading

Men entitled to Title VII protection from sexually hostile work environment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a female co-worker’s “relentless” pursuit of a male employee, including verbal comment and suggestive notes, could form the basis of a sexually hostile environment, even without any physical conduct of a sexual nature. EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc., 9th Cir., No. 07-17221, Sept. 3, … Continue Reading

Actionable hostile work environment can be based upon a single action.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that it is up to a jury to determine whether, in fact, a single instance of uninvited intimate physical contact may be sufficient to support a claim of hostile work environment. Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority, 7th Cir., No. 07-2288, August 23, 2010. Cynthia Berry was … Continue Reading

Threatening language may support claim of hostile environment, even without sexual references.

For the second time in as many weeks, a federal appeals court decision rests on the determination that an alleged harasser who makes gender-specific slurs and comments can create a hostile work environment for a female employee, even though the harasser is an “Equal Opportunity Harasser” who makes crass and offensive remarks to “everyone, regardless … Continue Reading

Equal Opportunity Harasser’s use of female-specific slurs and remarks can support claim of hostile work environment.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that an alleged harasser who makes gender-specific slurs and comments can create a hostile work environment for a female employee, even though the harasser is an “Equal Opportunity Harasser” who makes sexually offensive remarks to “anybody, any time.” EEOC v. Fairbrook Medical Clinic, P.A., 4th Circ., … Continue Reading

Company pays judgment for sexual harassment of teenaged employees.

The EEOC announced on May 5, 2010 that Ohio-based Everdry Marketing and Management, Inc., has paid over $500,000 in damages in interest to satisfy a judgment against that company stemming from a 2006 jury trial. The original claims were filed by 13 women, mostly teenagers at the time of the incidents, who worked at the … Continue Reading

Company’s prompt reaction to noose precludes liability for racial discrimination.

When an individual claims to have been racially harassed by co-workers, he or she must show that the employer was negligent either in discovering or remedying the harassment. An employer can avoid liability for co-worker harassment if it takes prompt and appropriate remedial action that is likely to prevent the harassment from recurring. Recently, the … Continue Reading

Supervisors without authority to affect employment status of other workers are not “managers” for purpose of Title VII.

The basis of an employer’s liability for a claim of hostile work environment under Title VII depends upon whether the harasser is the complainant’s supervisor or merely a co-worker. When a hostile work environment is created by a co-worker, the employer is liable only if the employer failed to provide an avenue for reporting the … Continue Reading
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