“Unpleasant” Conduct Nevertheless Insufficient to Give Rise to a Plausible ADA Hostile Work Environment Claim, Court Holds

In Errickson v. Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Inc., 8:22-cv-533-VMC-CPT, 2022 WL 1487588 (M.D.Fla. May 11, 2022), the court dismissed plaintiff’s disability-based hostile work environment claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

After summarizing the “black letter” law, the court applied it to the facts:

Although the issue of whether harassment was severe and pervasive is usually better addressed at summary judgment, the Court agrees with Lakeland Regional that the amended complaint’s allegations are insufficient to even state a plausible claim for hostile work environment at the motion to dismiss stage.

Here, Errickson alleges without greater detail that her supervisors and co-workers “follow[ed] her and harass[ed] her throughout her shifts at work.” She also alleges that she received two disciplinary write-ups despite allegedly insufficient evidence that she was responsible for the violations or mistakes, that she was verbally reprimanded by a supervisor once for not finishing her assignments, that she was required to undergo a second fitness for duty evaluation after her chemotherapy ended in April 2021, and her complaints of harassment were not taken seriously. While no doubt unpleasant, these allegations taken together do not rise to the level of severe or pervasive harassment. See Spivey v. Enter. City Bd. of Educ., No. 1:18-CV-427-SRW, 2019 WL 357983, at *6 (M.D. Ala. Jan. 29, 2019) (dismissing ADA hostile work environment claim as not involving severe or pervasive harassment where plaintiff alleged she was removed from supervisory responsibility as a teacher and received closer scrutiny than other employees).

Despite her argument to the contrary, Errickson’s allegations here are less severe than those in [Phillips v. Harbor Venice Mgmt., LLC, No. 8:19-cv-2379-VMC-TGW, 2020 WL 2735201 (M.D. Fla. May 26, 2020)] in which the hostile work environment claim survived a motion to dismiss. Unlike here, in Phillips, the plaintiff “endure[d] multiple angry text messages from her superiors, repeated orders to stay home for what she claims were trumped-up reasons, [and] a repeated disregard of requests for accommodations to recover from a serious illness,” as well as “invasive” personal questions and comments about her breast cancer surgery. Phillips, 2020 WL 2735201, at *4 n.2.

[Cleaned up.]

While the court granted defendant’s motion, since an amendment to plaintiff’s complaint would not be futile, it dismissed plaintiff’s ADA hostile work environment claim with leave to amend as to that theory.

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