Stalnaker v. Kmart Corp.

950 F. Supp. 1091 (D. Kan. 1996)

 

RULE:

Rule one: To prevail under a hostile work environment theory, plaintiff employee must demonstrate that sexual conduct had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with her work performance or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment is actionable only if the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment.

Rule two: To establish a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, plaintiff must show: (1) that she engaged in protected opposition to discrimination; (2) that she suffered adverse action from her employer; and (3) that there was a causal connection between her protected activity and her employer's adverse action.

FACTS:

Plaintiff employee filed an action against defendant employer alleging that she had been sexually harassed by defendant’s supervisor and retaliated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion.

ISSUE:

Issue one: Was defendant employer liable for hostile work environment sexual harassment as alleged by plaintiff employee?

Issue two: Did defendant employer retaliate against plaintiff employee after she filed her sexual harassment complaint with store management?

ANSWER:

1. No.; 2. No.

CONCLUSION:

Conclusion one: Defendant employer was not liable for the supervisor's hostile work environment sexual harassment. The supervisor's conduct was not within the scope of his employment because the conduct at issue was not part of his job description. There was also no evidence that the supervisor exercised supervisory authority over the plaintiff employee and or had the power to alter the terms or conditions of the employee's job.

Conclusion two: There was insufficient evidence of retaliation in the instant case. Plaintiff employee complained of the following three incidents: (1) a supervisor's surveillance of her work area; (2) a supervisor and a store security officer laughing and pointing in plaintiff's direction; and (3) a co-employee suggesting at a store meeting that the supervisor at issue be given 40 smacks in honor of his birthday. The three incidents could not reasonably be described as having created an intolerable work environment so as to constitute retaliation.

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