Hostile Work Environment Claim Held Time-Barred; Time Not Working for Defendant Couldn’t Be Considered

In Barr v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, 17-cv-00378, 2019 WL 6828987 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 13, 2019), the court granted summary judgment for defendant on plaintiff’s race-based hostile work environment claim.

This case involves, inter alia, the application of the so-called “continuing violation doctrine”, and in particular the scenario where a portion of the alleged hostile work environment occurs while the employee is not employed by the defendant.

Specifically, plaintiff alleged that “the continuing violation doctrine applies because she claims she was harassed beginning … while she was still working at Bass Pro and continuing until after her employment ended[.]”

The court held (citations and internal quotation marks omitted):

[E]very iteration of the elements of a hostile work environment claim has required an existing employer-employee relationship and a showing that the harassment substantively affected the plaintiff’s working conditions. … The 2016 conduct, during a time period in which Plaintiff was not actively working for Bass Pro had no effect upon [her] work environment, her working conditions or her ability to perform her job – the hallmarks of a hostile work environment and no reasonable juror could find it to be a component of a hostile work environment claim. While Title VII does—in certain instances—protect against post-employment retaliation, Plaintiff has not brought a retaliation claim and there is no such post-employment retaliation alleged here.

Therefore, the court held that the continuing violation doctrine is inapplicable here.

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