Third Circuit Finds One Racial Slur Sufficient to Assert Harassment Claim

 
Monday, September 11, 2017
 

On July 14, 2017, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a single use of a derogatory term can sustain a workplace harassment claim. In Castleberry v. STI Group and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the court addressed whether a single use of a racial slur could be severe enough to support the plaintiff’s claim of harassment and survive a motion to dismiss.  The case can be read here:  http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/163131p.pdf

The Third Circuit agreed with the plaintiffs and clarified that the correct standard in these types of cases is, in fact, “severe and pervasive,” and rejected the lower court’s holding that the harassment must be regular to state a viable claim. Under the “severe or pervasive” standard, the single use of a racial slur is sufficient to sustain a claim for harassment at the motion to dismiss phase.

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