Title VII Retaliatory Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal; Alleged Harassment Occurred Shortly After EEOC Charge

In Wilson et al v. City of Greenville, Mississippi et al, No. 4:22CV64-GHD-DAS, 2023 WL 7021295 (N.D.Miss. Oct. 25, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to plaintiffs’ claims of retaliatory hostile work environment asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the decision:

Plaintiffs have pled sufficient facts to show that they engaged in protected activity, as both Plaintiffs filed an EEOC charge alleging sexual or sexual orientation harassment, and filing an EEOC claim is protected activity. Haire v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ., 719 F.3d 356, 367 (5th Cir.2013).

Plaintiffs must also plead facts that show unwelcome harassment, and further, Plaintiffs must also allege a causal connection between the harassment and the protected activity. Plaintiff Wilson states that one business day after filing his EEOC claim he was effectively told that he was “resigning” against his will. Further, Plaintiff Wilson alleges that three days after filing his EEOC complaint, he was told that the Sheriff’s Department would be sent if he attempted to show up for work. Plaintiff Merchant has also alleged that his employment with the City of Greenville deteriorated after his EEOC claim was filed. Merchant states that his job duties were reduced over a period of time, preventing him from performing vital aspects of his position. Plaintiff Merchant lastly alleges that he was forced to involuntary resign when his position was given to Defendant Marcus Turner while Plaintiff Merchant still held the position. Further, both Plaintiffs have sufficiently pled facts that show the alleged retaliation affected a term, condition, or privilege of their employment and that Defendant City of Greenville was aware of the retaliatory hostile work environment. Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the Plaintiffs’ retaliatory hostile work environment claims is denied.

It bears noting that this court assessed “retaliatory hostile work environment” as a claim separate, and distinct, from one of retaliation based on “adverse employment action.”

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