Utah Employment Letter - August 2012: Hostile Work Environment: No kidding: 10th Circuit sends case involving racial jokes to trial


Q: What’s red, white, and blue but not something you hoist up a flagpole?

A: An employer red with rage, white with fright, and blue in the face while holding its breath waiting for a jury verdict in a discrimination case. (Da-dumdum-ching!)

If you think that joke is bad and offensive, just wait; there’s more to come. In the following case, supervisors’ off-color attempts at humor didn’t sit well with a disgruntled former employee who filed suit. Nor did they sit well with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Utah and Colorado employers), which overturned the federal district court’s decision to dismiss the case without a trial. Read on to find out why the 10th Circuit thought the Hispanic former employee’s hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were serious matters that should be heard by a jury.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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