National Origin-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Sufficiently Alleged

In Myrtil v. Serra Chevrolet, LLC, Case No. 2:22-cv-02595-MSN-tmp, 2023 WL 6367667 (W.D.Tenn. Sept. 29, 2023), the court, inter alia, adopted a Magistrate Judge’s Report & Recommendation to deny defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim of a hostile work environment (based on national origin) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the decision:

The Court agrees with the Report that it is “a close question” whether this claim should survive a motion to dismiss, but that the Complaint alleges sufficient factual content to support a reasonable inference that Plaintiff was subject to a hostile work environment based on his national origin. Whether conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive is based on the totality of the circumstances. Randolph v. Ohio Dep’t of Youth Servs., 453 F.3d 724, 733 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing Black v. Zaring Homes, Inc., 104 F.3d 822, 826 (6th Cir. 1997)). Some factors courts consider in determining whether a hostile work environment exists include “the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.” Harris, 510 U.S. at 23. “[M]erely offensive” conduct is not sufficient to support a hostile work environment claim. Id. at 21. “Simple teasing, [ ] offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to discriminatory changes in the terms and conditions of employment. Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 787 (1998) (citing Harris, 510 U.S. at 23). This analysis should “include[ ] all incidents of alleged harassment ….” Williams v. Gen. Motors Corp., 187 F.3d 553, 563 (6th Cir. 1999).

Taking Plaintiff’s facts as true, the allegations describe an environment in which Plaintiff was subjected to daily comments about his national origin throughout his two-year period of employment by Defendant. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4.) While such remarks could comfortably fall within the category of “offensive utterances” when considered separately, their alleged frequency weighs against categorizing them as “simple teasing, [ ] offhand comments, and isolated incidents.” Faragher, 524 U.S. at 787. These comments went beyond what one might describe as light teasing, anyway: Mr. Pittman allegedly told Plaintiff on one occasion to “get the ‘F’ out [of] here and go back to wherever you came from.” (ECF No. 1 at PageID 5.) Plaintiff also alleges that he was humiliated by the “Jamaican shirt” Mr. Pittman gave him, which Mr. Pittman continued to reference afterwards. (Id. at PageID 5.)

Accordingly, the Court adopted the recommendation that defendant’s motion to dismiss this claim be denied.

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