Age-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed on Summary Judgment

In Cooper v. County of York, Civil No. 21-CV-01440, 2024 WL 183013 (M.D.Pa. Jan. 17, 2024), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim of age-based hostile work environment asserted under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

From the decision:

Finally, York’s motion requests summary judgment on Cooper’s claims for hostile work environment under the ADEA and PHRA. To prevail on a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must show that his workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [his] employment and create an abusive working environment. …

York is entitled to summary judgment on Cooper’s hostile work environment claims because the treatment he claims to have been subjected to was not sufficiently severe or pervasive. While Cooper testified that he was the target of roughly sixty age-related comments between October 2020 and March 2021, many of the remarks appear to have been routine requests for information about Cooper’s disability status, and the comments went no further than asking about retirement, repeatedly noting Cooper’s light duty status, and telling Cooper that he was not “get[ting] any younger.” The remarks were, by and large, not inherently discriminatory, and there is no evidence that Cooper was physically threatened, publicly humiliated, screamed at, or targeted with any epithets.

[Citations and internal quotation marks omitted.]

The court concluded that “[e]ven viewing the record in a light most favorable to Cooper, no reasonable jury could find that the comments to which he testified altered the conditions of his employment or created an abusive work environment.”

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