“Routine Annoyances” Did Not Give Rise to Hostile Work Environment, Constructive Discharge Claims

In Shah v. Shirley Ryan Abilitylab, 2023 WL 6388228 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 29, 2023), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims.

From the decision:

To allege a plausible hostile work environment claim, the environment must be “both subjectively and objectively offensive,” and the conduct constituting the hostile environment must be “severe or pervasive.” Poullard, 829 F.3d at 859. Further, to plausibly allege “constructive discharge,” the working conditions must be “even more egregious than that required for a hostile work environment claim because employees are generally expected to remain employed while seeking redress, thereby allowing an employer to address a situation before it causes the employee to quit.”

Plaintiff has not alleged either a plausible hostile work environment claim or constructive discharge. Instead, many of her examples suggest, at most, routine annoyances at any new job—a scanner that does not work, problems accessing a shared drive, lost notes, confusing instructions, a slower-than-expected background check. [14] at 9. Other examples suggest, at most, petty grievances or minor slights by colleagues—for example, someone behaved “unkindly,” someone moved her belongings to a different desk overnight, someone commented about the smell of her food. Id. Still other allegations describe experiences having nothing to do with discrimination or mistreatment—her claim, for example, that her “parking tickets did not accurately reflect” when she arrived and departed, and her claim that she tripped in the cafeteria. Id. These allegations do not plausibly suggest either objectively offensive or “severe and pervasive” conduct having anything to do with Plaintiff’s race or national origin.

The court further held that plaintiff’s “allegations rise to the level of egregious conduct that would plausibly suggest constructive discharge, particularly when Plaintiff’s total term of employment lasted just ten days.”

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