hostile work environment

Could Supervisor’s Statements Regarding Biracial Dating Create a Hostile Work Environment?

Posted on September 20, 2017

The Situation: Caucasian employee has an African American spouse with whom she has several children. The employee’s supervisor begins complaining to her about his concerns that his daughter is dating an African American man and talking to her about the potential problems that might arise out of this relationship, including consequences within his extended family and for his daughter professionally. The employee tells the supervisor that she feels uncomfortable with these conversations, but he continues to make similar complaints and comments. Could the employer be found to have violated Title VII?…

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Can Hugging Be Hostile?

Posted on March 1, 2017
Posted in Title VII

The Situation: One of your top level managers is known to frequently hug female employees, both in the workplace and outside of work.   A female employee who has worked for your company for a number of years ends up filing a charge with the EEOC, asserting a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, claiming that based upon this manager’s frequent and unwelcome hugs, she has experienced significant stress and anxiety at the workplace.   Could your company face liability under Title VII?  …

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Look out—possibly more hostile work environment claims ahead

Posted on May 15, 2015

Following the recent ruling of the Fourth Circuit after an en banc rehearing, employers may face more claims for hostile work environment. In Boyer-Liberto v. Fountainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (4th Cir. May 7, 2015), the Fourth Circuit overturned a prior decision by its own panel and the district court and found that an extremely serious instance of harassment, even if it is isolated, can support a claim for hostile work environment and also provide a basis for a claim of retaliation if the isolated incident is physically threatening or humiliating.…

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Employer May Be Liable Where Spurned Co-Worker Takes Action to Get Employee Fired

Posted on June 13, 2014

The Supreme Court has previously ruled on the issue of employer liability premised on a finding of negligence in cases involving hostile workplace. But, yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court is whether an employer can face liability when a co-worker (instead of a supervisor) commits a discriminatory act that influences an ultimate employment decision. The First Circuit recently answered this question in the affirmative, finding that an employer can be liable if it fires an employee based upon complaints that it knew or reasonably should have known were the product of discriminatory animus. Velazquez-Perez v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp., et al., No. 12-2226 (1st Cir. May 23, 2014).…

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Fourth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Third Party Harassment Claim

Posted on May 16, 2014

In a recent decision, the Fourth Circuit has joined other circuits in holding that a negligence standard applies to third party harassment claims under Title VII, an issue the United States Supreme Court has yet to reach.  In Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., et al., No. 131481 (4th Cir. April 29, 2014), the Fourth Circuit concluded that a black female former employee had triable racial and sexual harassment claims under Title VII based on evidence that her employer failed to respond adequately to harassment from a customer.…

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