Race/National Origin-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Dismissed Against Dollar Tree Stores

In Taylor v. Dollar Tree Stores, 2020 WL 2478663 (EDNY May 13, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race- and national origin-based hostile work environment claims.

From the decision:

Taylor’s allegations about his co-workers, including that they verbally abused him cannot be the basis of a hostile work environment claim, because there is an insufficient basis to infer the treatment he received from his co-workers was because of Taylor’s race or national origin. See, e.g., Wallen v. Teknavo Grp., No. 12-CV-6196, 2018 WL 1278317, at *21 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2018) (“Title VII is not a ‘general civility code.’ As such, it is axiomatic that mistreatment at work through subjection to a hostile environment is actionable under Title VII only when it occurs because of an employee’s sex, or other protected characteristic. Consequently, these incidents, do not—either by themselves or in combination with the other two comments—create sufficient evidence to demonstrate the existence of a hostile work environment. Wallen fails, therefore, to set forth a Title VII discrimination case based on a hostile work environment.” (quotations, citation, brackets, and alterations omitted)). Although Taylor alleges in his deposition that he was not treated appropriately by his co-workers because he was not “from the islands,” but being African-American instead, (Def.’s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 19; Taylor Dep. at 46:14–49:02), this assertion by him is unsupported by any other evidence. (Furthermore, the allegations of race-based mistreatment are also not included in the numerous emails that he sent management seeking a transfer from the Dollar Tree Store or complaining about his co-workers.) Without any additional evidence Taylor’s hostile work environment claims under federal and state law must be dismissed.

The court also rejected plaintiff’s reliance on post-termination racist remarks allegedly made by his supervisor, holding that such remarks were “insufficient to establish a hostile work environment because he no longer worked at” defendant.