Sex-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Single Comment Insufficient

In Sarraj v. Northern Virginia Electric, 2022 WL 2820553 (E.D.Va. July 18, 2022), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims based on race, age, and sex.

Initially, the court held that plaintiff – who is over 40 and Iraqi-Kurish – did not sufficiently allege an race and age-based hostile work environment claim, solely by alleging that her principal harassers were white men (at least one of whom was under 40).

It next held that plaintiff’s sex-based hostile work environment claim was likewise flawed, explaining:

Plaintiff’s claim of a sex-based hostile work environment is also flawed. With respect to her claim of a sex-based hostile work environment, plaintiff merely adds the allegation that Bisson once commented that “If it weren’t for men ruling, women wouldn’t know what to do.” Plaintiff also alleges that Bisson incentivized other manager to disrespect other women but offers no examples. Nor does plaintiff allege the dates on which any these alleged remarks occurred, or which other managers participated in this alleged practice of making women uncomfortable at work. See Rosero v. Johnson, Mirmiran, & Thompson, Inc., 2022 WL 899442, at *7 (D. Md. Mar. 28, 2022) (holding that a hostile work environment claim must be dismissed where a plaintiff “does not explain which employees made those statements or provide the contents of those statements”). The single remark by Bisson combined with plaintiffs vague and conclusory allegations that there were “other” examples of sex-based remarks are insufficient to allege plausibly a severe or pervasive hostile work environment based on sex. Accordingly, defendant’s motion to dismiss must be granted with respect to plaintiff’s sex-based hostile work environment. [Cleaned up.]

The court did, however, permit plaintiff an opportunity to amend her sex-based hostile work environment claim, if she “can add meat to the bones of her vague allegations that other individuals also made sex-based comments and state a plausible claim.”

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