Hostile Work Environment, Based on Race and National Origin, Sufficiently Alleged

In Sanchez v. Chevron North America Exploration and Production Co., 2021 WL 5513509 (5th Cir. Nov. 24, 2021), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

After summarizing the “black letter” law, the court applied it to the facts:

Though some of Sanchez’s claims were not plausibly connected to his race or national origin, some were. Sanchez identified coworkers, both superiors and equals, who he claimed made derogatory remarks to Sanchez based on his race or national origin. Sanchez also named individuals whom he claimed were aware of the harassment who had some supervisory authority. He also alleges that he made the company aware through several reports to his supervisors and others in supervisory roles as early as 2016. Our reading of the complaint finds both a claim that Chevron formally investigated Sanchez’s reports from October 2016 through July 2017, and a claim that Chevron largely ignored his complaints. The complaint asserts there was continued discrimination and harassment, including receiving a note in his flight bag that said, “Leave our company and go back to Puerto Rico you f****ing a**hole immigrant.” Shortly after this incident, a Chevron employee counselor suggested to Sanchez that he take administrative leave and seek help from a counselor in his hometown; Sanchez accepted that advice. According to Sanchez’s complaint, Sanchez’s various reports through the years led to his being reprimanded, a negative employment allegation, and decrease in responsibility and pay before he was ultimately terminated. The complaint sufficiently alleges that Chevron knew of the harassment and did not take meaningful remedial action.

For the harassment to affect a term or condition of employment, the harassment “must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [the victim’s] employment and create an abusive working environment.” Lauderdale v. Texas Dep’t of Crim. Just., Inst. Div., 512 F.3d 157, 163 (5th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Sanchez plausibly pled such an environment. He identified specific individuals and provided detailed factual recitations of the harassment he alleges that he endured. He explains that the work environment made him physically ill.

Based on this, the court concluded that plaintiff’s “hostile-work-environment claim was plausible.”

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