Return to our Home page Search
Click here for the hotel and hospitality news from around the globe Hotel, Travel and Hospitality Articles Videos and in-depth Interviews
CONCIERGE DESK
Read more now
Read more now
Read more now
If They Hate You, They Must Hate Me Too.
By Gregory Ballew
Thursday, 8th March 2012
 

In February, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit addressed the issue of whether alleged harassment toward African-American employees could support the claim that there was a hostile work environment for two Hispanic employees.

The court concluded it could not in the particular case before it, stating that "if the evidence of the workplace environment for the employees of plaintiff's race does not show frequent, severe and pervasive hostility, then evidence of hostility towards a different racial group is not much support for the plaintiff's claim."

Thus, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a federal district court's summary judgment order in favor of the employer on two Hispanic employees' hostile work environment claims, finding the evidence of alleged harassment against the Hispanic employees insufficiently frequent, severe or pervasive. However, the Fifth Circuit noted, "whether that conclusion is always correct, we need not decide." Hernandez, et. al. v. Yellow Transportation, Inc.

Facts

Two Hispanic employees at a trucking terminal brought claims of race discrimination and retaliation, including hostile work environment harassment claims. The claims also included a claim by a Caucasian employee that his association with African-American and Hispanic employees resulted in a hostile work environment and retaliation against him.

One Hispanic employee claimed that he was called a racially derogatory term on one occasion and once saw a poster or letter that was derogatory about Hispanics. Another Hispanic employee claimed that he once heard Mexicans referred to in a derogatory manner over a company radio and had seen a derogatory posting or drawing. The Hispanic employees also attempted to rely on evidence of alleged harassment against African-Americans in support of their hostile work environment claims.

The district court granted summary judgment to the employer on all of the claims brought by three plaintiffs. In doing so, the district court held that examples of harassment toward African-American employees could not support the claim that there was a hostile work environment for the two Hispanic employees.

The 5th Circuit's Decision

On appeal, the two Hispanic employees claimed that the district court erred by refusing to consider all of the evidence of harassment, including harassment allegedly suffered by African-Americans and instances of non-race-based harassment. The 5th Circuit noted that whether the rejection of that evidence was proper was the key appellate issue on these claims.

Race-based harassment affects the employment relationship when it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment. An employer is liable for harassment by a co-worker where it knows or should have known of the harassment and fails to take prompt corrective action. A wide range of behaviors can make a workplace uncivil, but an employee must show that the conduct was based on his or her race.

The 5th Circuit noted that it has held in the context of a sex discrimination claim that harassment of women other than the plaintiff is relevant to a hostile work environment claim, but noted that it was still an unanswered question "whether evidence of harassment towards African-American employees can help support claims of a hostile work environment towards Hispanic employees."

In the case before it, the 5th Circuit agreed with the district court that the evidence offered of an alleged hostile work environment for African-American employees could not transform what was an otherwise insufficient case of a hostile work environment by two Hispanic employees into one that could survive summary judgment.

What It Means For Employers

For some purposes, an employee has been allowed to introduce evidence of discrimination against others. For example, a woman who herself was not the object of harassment might have a harassment claim if she was forced to work in an atmosphere in which such harassment was pervasive.

But when a plaintiff's claims of alleged harassment against his or her own protected class (in this case, race) are not frequent, severe, or pervasive to support a hostile work environment claim, reliance on harassment against another protected race is not sufficient to allow the case to survive summary judgment, at least under the 5th Circuit's opinion.

The decision is precedent only in the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, although it may be persuasive to other Courts of Appeals. In addition, the court was careful to state that it was not deciding whether its conclusion "was always correct," leaving open the possibility that where the evidence of harassment against a plaintiff's own protected class is sufficiently severe or pervasive, evidence of discrimination against another protected class might be relevant.

The bottom line is that employers should continue to take appropriate corrective action against employees who engage in discriminatory behavior or remarks against any race regardless of who was present when the behavior or remarks occurred.

For more information contact the author at gballew@laborlawyers.com or (816) 842-8770.

Greg Ballew is a partner in the Kansas City office.  His practice involves defending employers in discrimination cases before state and federal administrative agencies and courts, as well as advising employers regarding compliance with various employment laws. Greg represents employers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and in labor arbitration proceedings throughout the United States.

www.laborlawyers.com

Advertise with 4Hoteliers.com ...[Click for More]

~ Important Notice ~
Articles appearing here contain copyright material. They are meant for your personal use and may not be reproduced or redistributed. While 4Hoteliers makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we can not be held responsible for the content nor the views expressed, which may not necessarily be those of either the original author or 4Hoteliers or its agents.

Learn more about DigiJames - in room technology
Advertisment  
 Latest News  (Click title to read article)
Foreign GDSs gear up for the much-awaited opportunity in China
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

IHG announces a Holiday Inn Resort for Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

2015 Global Travel Price Outlook
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

New global certification for handling cold-chain pharmaceuticals freight
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

CWT announces growth in sales volume and transactions during first half of 2014
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014
 Latest Articles  (Click title to read)
Ctrip Asserts Supremacy with its Performance, Gears up for Deeper Penetration
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

Much Ado about a Review
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

Accountability: A Dying Concept?
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

12 Content Ideas for Your Hotel's Blog
Monday, 1st September 2014

Global Update: Who's Where and Doing What - August 2014
Monday, 1st September 2014
 Most Read Articles  (Click title to read)
Global Update: Who's Where and Doing What - June 2014
5 Social Media Trends to Embrace this Year
Global Update: Who's Where and Doing What - May 2014
Top Ten Things Luxury Guests Want!
Millennials Seek More Value from Luxury Hotels
 Useful Links  (Click company to visit)
A-Listings - Exclusive Links Section @ 4Hoteliers
www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_mshw.php?mwi=9

AETHOS Consulting Group ~ Overview and Articles
www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_mshw.php?mwi=72

Book Hotels & Travel
www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=105951

Connect with us at LinkedIn
hk.linkedin.com/in/4hoteliers

Customized Hotel & Restaurant Equipment
www.forkandchopstick.com

Digital Innovation Asia
www.digitalinnovationasia.com

Follow us on Twitter!
www.twitter.com/4hoteliers

Hospitality Consultants ~ Lifestyle Concepts
www.lifestyle-concepts.com

Hospitality IT & Technology
www.nonweiler.com

Hotel Opening Processes: Exploring better ways to open new hotels.
www.hotelopeningprocesses.com

ITB 2015 Marketing
www.4hoteliers.com/news/story/9725

Private, luxurious holiday villa in Valbonne
www.villa-valbonne-biot.com/en

Sayang - For True Wine Lovers
www.sayangwines.com

TravelDaily China Travel Distribution Summit
event.traveldaily.cn/23/index_en.aspx

TV4Hoteliers.com - Live Interviews
TV4Hoteliers.com

Wynamics ~ Working the Dynamics of Wine
www.wynamics.com

ZIXI - Your Asian Partner: Advisory - Sourcing - Project Management - Market Entry
zixi.hk


© Copyright 4Hoteliers 2001-2014 ~ unless stated otherwise, all rights reserved.
You can read more about 4Hoteliers and our company here

Use of this web site is subject to our
terms & conditions of service and privacy policy