Hostile Environment

News & Analysis as of

Single Plant Employment Discrimination Class Survives Dukes Challenge

A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit ruled that a South Carolina district court judge improperly applied Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes in decertifying disparate treatment and disparate impact claims challenging promotion...more

Fourth Circuit Orders Class Certification for African-American Steelworkers—Again

For the second time, the Fourth Circuit has determined that African-American employees at a South Carolina steel plant are entitled to Rule 23 class certification. In Brown v. Nucor Corporation and Nucor Steel-Berkeley,...more

H2H Enterprises / Huddle House #670 to Pay $15,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment Lawsuit

Restaurant Managers Created a Racially Hostile Work Environment For Black Employee, Federal Agency Charged - PINE BLUFF, Ark. - H2H Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a/ Huddle House #670 in Pine Bluff, Ark., will pay $15,000 to...more

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Hostile Work Environment Can Be Created With A Single Racial Epithet

Despite consistent direction from the United States Supreme Court that courts should look at "all the circumstances" in determining whether a workplace environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive to give rise to an...more

Fourth Circuit Joins Other Federal Courts in Broadly Interpreting the Scope of Title VII Retaliation Claims

On May 7, 2015, the Fourth Circuit ruled that an isolated instance of harassment, if "extremely serious," can create a hostile work environment, and that complaining about such harassment constitutes protected activity under...more

Fourth Circuit Reverses Position on Single Racial Slur as Sufficient to Create Hostile Work Environment

For years, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes North Carolina and South Carolina) set a high bar for plaintiffs suing for workplace harassment. The court rejected multiple claims involving obnoxious and crude...more

In a Win for Employees, Fourth Circuit Finds That Two Racial Slurs May Support Harassment Claim

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently made two noteworthy rulings in a single case concerning sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII. First, as it relates to sexual harassment, the Court found that two...more

Lowering the Bar: Fourth Circuit Rules Single Incident Sufficient to Trigger Title VII Hostile Work Environment Claim

Out with the old and in with the new. In a decision issued last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a single incident of harassment was sufficient to move a harassment claim forward. This decision is certainly...more

Fourth Circuit Lowers the Bar in Title VII Harassment and Retaliation Cases

On May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (covering Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland) issued an opinion that potentially makes it easier for employees to survive...more

Social Awareness Programs: Good for Business or Legal Risk?

Despite good intentions and previous success taking a stand on contentious issues — i.e., gun control and gay marriage — a coffee company quickly realized its campaign to encourage discussions of race relations between...more

California Court of Appeal Reminds Employers About the Importance of Thorough Harassment Investigations

Dawson v. Country Club of Rancho Bernardo, No. D064654 (March 23, 2015): In an unpublished opinion, a California Court of Appeal reversed an order granting summary judgment in favor of the employer, Country Club of Rancho...more

Harassing Act Directed at Another Employee Enough to Revive Plaintiff's Time Barred Harassment Claims

Under Title VII, employees typically must file a charge of discrimination within 180 days (or 300 days in states such as South Carolina with their own EEO enforcement agencies) of the alleged discriminatory act. In its 2002...more

Court finds employer not vicariously liable for actions of employees against other employees

In Palmer & Ors v State of Queensland [2015] QDC 63, a determination by Judge McGill of the Brisbane District Court delivered on 27 March 2015 determined that the employer, Disability Services Queensland, took all reasonable...more

Labor and Employment — The TMZ of Law

We employment lawyer types proudly boast that no one has better legal stories to tell than we do (if only we could tell all of our stories). Some of our best stories were thrust into the media during the first quarter of...more

Supervisor's "Hitler" Comment Not Enough to Create Hostile Work Environment

Does a single incident create a hostile work environment? Just this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that one offensive comment was insufficient to create a hostile work environment....more

The “Protected Activity” Prong of a Prima Facie Retaliation Claim

Courts increasingly scrutinize the “protected activity” prong of a plaintiff’s prima facie retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other, similar anti-discrimination laws. ...more

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad: NJ High Court Offers Employers Avenue to Limit Vicarious Liability in Harassment Suits; But...

In Aguas v. State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently adopted an affirmative defense—available under federal law since 1998—allowing employers to use their anti-harassment policies to limit vicarious...more

2014's Hottest Employment Rulings Affecting Southeastern Employers

2014 saw a wide range of employment issues presented before the 11th Circuit. This article seeks to highlight some of the more frequently cited 11th Circuit opinions from last year. The updates below, although not earth...more

Several Ounces of Prevention: The New Jersey Supreme Court Reminds Employers of the Importance of Anti-Harassment Policies,...

On February 11, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in Aguas v. New Jersey, decided three important legal issues regarding employment discrimination claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). First,...more

N.J. Supreme Court Decision in Harassment Case Mixed Bag for Employers

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently decided two key issues affecting claims of supervisory hostile work environment sexual harassment under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). In Aguas v. State of New...more

New Jersey high court decision will reshape employer liability in sexual harassment cases

On February 11, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a significant sexual harassment decision that offers something positive for both employers and employees. Employers will be happy that the Court has, after...more

NJ Supreme Court Rules on Supervisor Liability in Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Cases

On February 11, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision in Aguas v. New Jersey, No. A-35-13 (072467), holding that an employer’s antidiscrimination policy can be an affirmative defense to sexual harassment hostile...more

New Jersey Supreme Court Reshapes Sexual Harassment Claims

On February 11, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that will reshape hostile work environment sexual harassment cases brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49...more

Speakers Only: Governmental Entities Must be Engaged in “Communicative Activity” to Qualify for Anti-SLAPP Protection

On January 22, the Washington Supreme Court decided Henne v. City of Yakima, its first decision interpreting Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute (SLAPP is short for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). This case has...more

Fourth Circuit Says Verbal Conduct Can Rise to Level of Actionable Harassment

Not all offensive conduct in the workplace rises to the level of an actionable sexual harassment claim. Federal courts have repeatedly held that in order to cross the line into an offensive working environment, the conduct...more

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