Illinois Federal Court holds that Racial Harassment not Severe or Pervasive; No Constructive Discharge

On June 9, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a Court whose decisions are binding on the federal district courts in Illinois, affirmed a district court decision in the employer’s favor. Nurses, working for a private jail, alleged that the jail created a hostile environment based on race discrimination. They also alleged that they were constructively discharged based on the severity of the racial harassment.

Although the Court accepted that the nurses subjectively believed that they had been harassed, it held that a reasonable person would not have concluded that the occurrences constituted a hostile environment. The alleged harassment included reassigning African-American nurses to another shift, co-workers wearing T-shirts with the confederate flag on them, referring to a patient’s name as “black ass coal”and a remark about monkeys on the jail’s intercom as well as a book on the desk of the Administrator making references to monkeys in the workplace.

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