Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Against Virginia School Board

In a recent case, Mais v. Albemarle County School Board, Case No. 3:22-cv-51, 2023 WL 2143471 (W.D.Va. Feb. 21, 2023), the court explained why plaintiff sufficiently alleged a race-based hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

Plaintiff has alleged enough facts to allow a jury to determine if the alleged harassment was “severe or pervasive.” Guessous, LLC, 828 F.3d at 221. She alleges that Avery “verbally attacked” her for using the term “colored” during a training session and criticized her in a meeting with Hairston. Dkt. 1-5 ¶¶ 115, 157–64. She claims no action was taken by the School Board after she complained about Avery’s conduct. Id. ¶¶ 121–25. Plaintiff also claims that several employees told Plaintiff that Avery and her friends were calling her names at work, such as a racist, “white racist bitch,” and “two-faced racist bitch.” Id. ¶¶ 146–148. While she complained about this behavior to her principal and told him that it was “preventing her from focusing on her job,” no action was taken. Id. ¶¶ 149–51. She spoke to an assistant superintendent and HR employees about “the racially charged mistreatment she had experienced” but the School Board took no action. Id. ¶¶ 186–204. And she claims that she told her principal that she was experiencing severe mental and emotional distress from the hostile work environment. Id. ¶¶ 179–85.

The court concluded that “[c]onsidering the alleged repeated race-based comments, the School Board’s lack of intervention, and Plaintiff’s emotional and mental distress, Plaintiff has alleged a plausible racial hostile work environment claim under Title VII, which will survive the School Board’s motion to dismiss.”

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