Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rodriguez v. Gutierrez (Maryland U.S.D.C.)(not approved for publication)

Decided December 29, 2006--Opinion by Judge Catherine C. Blake (not approved for publication)

Pro se complaint against Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce alleging discrimination based on race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e, et seq.

The Plaintiff alleged a hostile work environment claim under Title VII. To prevail on a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must show that: 1) the conduct in question was unwelcome, 2) the harassment was based on race, 3) the harassment was sufficiently pervasive or severe to create an abusive working environment, and 4) that some basis exists for imputing liability to the employer. The Court dismissed this claim because the Plaintiff did not allege that her harassment was based on race, and because her alleged harassment was not sufficiently pervasive or severe to create an abusive working environment.

The Plaintiff did allege that her supervisor made alleged statements that she did not like Mexicans and did not want the Plaintiff to speak Spanish. However, these incidents occurred in 1998 or 1999. The Plaintiff did not contact an EEO counselor about the events until six or seven years later. She was required to contact an EEO counselor within 45 days of an alleged discriminatory act. Thus, her claim was time-barred.

While a claim alleging a hostile work environment claim will not be time barred so long as all acts which constitute the claim are part of the same unlawful employment practice, the supervisor's statements are not properly linked to the other, timely acts of discrimination and harassment alleged by the Plaintiff for several reasons:
[The supervisor] allegedly told [the Plaintiff] that she didn't like Mexicans in 1998-1999, and [the Plaintiff] did not begin to suffer the alleged harassment from co-workers until 2003. In the time period between 1999 and 2003, [the Plaintiff] alleges no harassment occurred. Second, [the supervisor's] harassment occurred while she was supervising [the Plaintiff] in CTMS, while [the Plaintiff's] co-workers allegedly harassed her while she was working in SASB. Although [the Plaintiff] directly worked with [the supervisor] in CTMS, [the supervisor] was not [the Plaintiff's] direct supervisor while [she] worked in SASB, and [the Plaintiff] does not allege that she worked on a regular basis with [the supervisor] in SASB. Third, there is no allegation that [the supervisor's] statements are related in any way to [the Plaintiff's] co-workers' harassment. . . .Thus, [the supervisor's] 1998-1999 statements are not part of the same "unlawful employment practice" alleged against [the] co-workers, and are time-barred.
The claim was dismissed without leave to amend.

The full opinion is available in PDF. The order is available here.

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