Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Survives Dismissal; Allegations Include Placement of Noose and Calling Plaintiff a “Slave”

In a recent decision, Montgomery v. Prisma Health, No. 6:23-cv-00395-TMC, 2024 WL 449274 (D.S.C. Feb. 5, 2024), the court, inter alia, declined to adopt a Magistrate Judge’s Report & Recommendation that plaintiff’s claim of a race-based hostile work environment asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After reviewing pertinent case law, the court concluded:

[G]iven the totality of the circumstances, including the fact that one supervisor allegedly hung two separate nooses within the hospital in areas known to be frequented by Plaintiff and other employees and that a second supervisor referred to Plaintiff as a “slave” in the presence of other staff, doctors, and colleagues, the court finds that Plaintiff has sufficiently pled alleged facts to justify an inference that Defendant’s conduct was “sufficiently pervasive or severe” to support a claim for a hostile work environment.

It next held that there was a basis for imputing the conduct to the employer, since plaintiff’s termination constitutes a “tangible employment action”, and the the two persons engaging in the allegedly objectionable conduct were his superiors who were involved in his termination.

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