When an employee sues his former employer alleging a
religiously hostile work environment, he must prove, among other things, that
he was subjected to harassment based on his religion and that the harassment
was either severe or pervasive.
What do you think? Is the email below from a company
General Manager severe enough for ya?
Can I just say something I shouldn't to
you here -- he is SUCH A JEW! In a BAD way. He's what gives Jews a bad name. He's
smarter. He's better. He's owed. He will do anything to keep
from opening his wallet -- right down to not eating!!!! And I am DEAD
serious here!!! That's why he expenses every single thing he can
because he won't pay anything! I have not seen him bring one single
thing into this office in all the time he's been here -- period.
(that he paid for) IF he does bring something in he expenses it. . .I
COULDN'T say to him what I just did to you -- that HE is what gives Jews a
Let's see what a NJ court said:
The case is Shain v. HEL Limited. You can find a
copy of the court's opinion here. But, I'll summarize the pertinent facts for you:
Now, I have not conducted a 50-state survey, but my guess
is that NJ is one of the exceptions to the rule. That is, I'd wager that it is one of the few states that has held that a single
discriminatory comment can create an actionable hostile work environment claim.
Still, those times in which a single incident will suffice to create an
actionable hostile work environment claim are highly unusual. In less extreme
circumstances, a single comment will not suffice to create a tenable discrimination
And that's what we have here, according to the Shain
Court. Based on the single email, it ruled in favor of the employer. The court
had four reasons for its decision. First, the email was not directed to the
plaintiff. Second, the email was sent by someone other than his direct
supervisor. Third, both the sender and the recipient promptly apologized.
Fourth, the company took action that was reasonably designed to end the
discrimination -- and, in fact, did. (Although, if it were me, I would have
recommended immediate termination. Intolerance like that has no place in my
Employment lawyers: If you know of courts in
other states that, like NJ, have permitted a one-act hostile work environment
claim to go to trial, please let me know in the comments section below the post on
This article was originally published on Eric B. Meyer's blog, The Employer
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