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An employer can create a hostile work environment by failing to take immediate corrective action in response to a coworker’s or third party’s sexual harassment that the employer knew or should have known about

California

,

USA

An Employer’s Inaction in Response to Sexual Harassment Can Create a Hostile Work Environment In Fried v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 20-15710 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2021), the plaintiff appealed the district court’s order granting the defendant’s summary judgment motion on the plaintiff’s claim for hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiff, a male manicurist, argued that four incidents at the salon created a hostile work environment: (1) his supervisor suggested that he seek employment in a field that is not a predominately female environment; (2) his coworkers’ suggestion that he wear a wig; (3) his supervisor’s response to the plaintiff’s report that a customer had sexually propositioned him; and (4) his coworkers comments that the plaintiff should take the customer’s proposition as a compliment and that the plaintiff wanted to have sex with the customer. Courts Consider All of the Circumstances to Determine Whether an Environment is Sufficiently Hostile to Violate Title VII When determining whether an environment was sufficiently hostile to violate Title VII, courts consider all of the circumstances of the environment, including the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, the severity of the conduct, whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating or a mere offensive utterance, and whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the employee’s work performance. A single incident can support a claim of hostile work environment because the frequency of the conduct is only one factor in the analysis. The Court held that the first two incidents cited by the plaintiff were not severe enough to create a hostile work environment. An Employer Can Create a Hostile Work Environment by Failing to Take Immediate Corrective Action in Response to a Coworker’s or Third Party’s Sexual Harassment The Court explained that if an employer knew or should have known about a coworker’s or a third party’s sexual harassment and fails to take immediate corrective action, that employer can create a hostile work environment. In this case, the plaintiff’s supervisor took no action to stop the sexual harassment reported by the plaintiff and instructed him to return to the customer who sexually propositioned him and to finish his pedicure. The Court found that this incident could be sufficient on its own to create a hostile work environment. Disposition The Court reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant and instructed the district court on remand to consider the cumulative effect of the plaintiff’s coworkers’ comments related to the sexual harassment incident.

April 14, 2022
Fried v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 20-15710 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2021)
Federal Courts (9th Circuit)