U.S. District Court, WDNY
Hostile Work Environment
Salmon v. Pliant Corporation
Background: The plaintiff, a former employee of the defendant, commenced an action alleging discrimination on the basis of race and retaliation. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that many co-workers made offensive gestures toward him, called him “stupid-ass” and “monkey,” and left a picture of a monkey on his locker. The defendant moved for summary judgment.
Ruling: The District Court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint. The court found that the incidents alleged, when viewed collectively, were isolated and spread over a period of years. This did not constitute severe, frequent, threatening, humiliating or distracting to give rise to a hostile work environment. Further, the employer investigated a number of the incidents, requiring the co-employees to apologize. Finally, the plaintiff could not demonstrate that he suffered a disadvantageous employment action.
Christina A. Agola and Ryan Charles Woodworth of Christina Agola for the plaintiff; Adam T. Pankratz of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart; Daniel J. Moore of Harris Beach, and Trina R. LeRiche of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal for the defendant