Ashley Collins
Jasmine Rutledge
Clark County School District vs Breeden
Summary:
In a meeting with a male supervisor and a male coworker to discuss four applicants” psychological evaluations, the supervisor read aloud a sexual comment that was from one of the applicants’ evaluations. He looked to the female respondent and said he didn’t know what it meant. The other male coworker replied, “Well, I’ll tell you later,” and they both chuckled. The responded took offence and reported the incident to the supervisor’s supervisor. One month later, she was transferred to a different location and a lesser position—demoted. She filed suit stating that she was punished for filing the complaints against the supervisor (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and also filed to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Decision:
The accusations did not hold up in court with the jury. They did not believe that an incident such as this could be filed under Title VII. “Sexual harassment is actionable under Title VI only if it is so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.” What the supervisor and coworker did was an isolated incident and was not considered “extremely serious.” As far as the claim that she was transferred due to complaining against him, it did not hold up either. No strong evidence was provided that proved she was transferred solely because of that. The case was dismissed.
Implications:
Clark County School District vs Breeden made it clear that for sexual harassment conduct to be considered severe enough to take action, it had to be more than just teasing, offhand comments, or an isolated incident unless that one incident was extremely serious and offensive. This case narrowed the scope of Title VII sexual harassment claims and made it to where the courts had to figure out what makes an environment hostile in a sexual harassment case to where a person needs to be removed from the situation and action needs to be taken.
Test Question
True or False: Sexual harassment is actionable under Title VII if it is one incidence of a lewd comment.
False- Sexual harassment is actionable under Title VII only if it is so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.