Disability (Asthma)-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed

In Lewis v. Exelon Corp., et al., 21-cv-3299, 2022 WL 1556329 (D.D.C. May 17, 2022), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim.

From the decision:

According to Lewis, his supervisor’s behavior was “severe and pervasive,” Compl. ¶ 17, but this is a conclusory allegation that the Court need not take as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. And the only alleged facts that support his hostile work environment claim are that Omijuanfo “criticized [his] work,” directed him to send daily emails with a summary of his work, “accused [him] of failing to perform work,” “micromanaged” him, and started an investigation against him. Compl. ¶¶ 16–17. Taken together, in the light most favorable to Lewis, these alleged facts do not show a “severe and pervasive pattern of harassment,” Outlaw v. Johnson, 49 F. Supp. 3d 88, 92 (D.D.C. 2014), that “create[d] an abusive working environment,” Baloch, 550 F.3d at 1201 (quoting Harris, 510 U.S. at 21).

First, criticisms of an employee’s work product “are the kinds of normal strains that can occur in any office setting.” Singh v. U.S. House of Representatives, 300 F. Supp. 2d 48, 56 (D.D.C. 2004); see also Nurriddin v. Bolden, 674 F. Supp. 2d 64, 94 (D.D.C. 2009) (“[T]he removal of important assignments, lowered performance evaluations, and close scrutiny of assignments by management [cannot] be characterized as sufficiently intimidating or offensive in an ordinary workplace context.”). That Lewis, unlike his co-workers, had to send daily work summary emails was a “minor inconvenience at best, not the type of behavior that alters the conditions of the victim’s employment.” Briscoe, 61 F. Supp. 3d at 88 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted); see also Truesdale v. District of Columbia, No. 21-cv-315, 2022 WL 951379, at *5 (D.D.C. Mar. 30, 2022) (“[E]ven accepting as true that [the plaintiff] was subjected to more scrutiny than other employees … there is no indication that [this] interfered with her ability to perform her job or was sufficiently severe to support a hostile work environment claim.”). Finally, while Lewis claims that he was investigated, he provides no details about the investigation or what it entailed. “Absent more information regarding the nature and extent of the [investigation],” the Court cannot find that it helped create an abusive work environment. Briscoe, 61 F. Supp. 3d at 87.

Based on this, the court concluded that “the allegations fail to state a hostile work environment claim” and dismissed this count of the complaint.

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