Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Conclusory Allegations of Bullying and Harassment Held Insufficient

In Simmons v. Transforce, Inc., 2023 WL 2192239 (S.D.Miss. Feb. 23, 2023), the court granted defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).

From the decision:

Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to state a hostile work environment claim. His allegations that he was bullied and harassed and treated unfairly are entirely conclusory; there are no facts to indicate what form the harassment or bullying took. The complaint clearly does not contain any facts to show that he was subject to harassment that was “severe” or “pervasive.” See Ramsey, 286 F.3d at 268 (“For harassment on the basis of race to affect a term, condition, or privilege of employment, as required to support a hostile work environment claim under Title VII, it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.”) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Furthermore, plaintiff plainly and explicitly attributes the harassment he experienced to his having turned down Otis Davis’s job offer and then having complained about Davis’s mistreatment.

The only allegation relating to harassment while at XPO/Nissan on account of his skin color is his statement that “[w]hile working at Nissan the employees joked on African American light skinned males at meetings making me uncomfortable.” This allegation, without more, is clearly not sufficient to state a claim for a hostile work environment. See Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 67, 106 S. Ct. 2399, 2405, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49 (1986) (holding that mere utterance of offensive comment or remark, which hurts employee’s feelings is not sufficient to affect the conditions of employment).

Having concluded that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a hostile work environment claim, the court held that it necessarily followed that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a constructive discharge claim.

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