Legal Blog

Telebriefs®: Are Racial Slurs Enough For Hostile Work Claim?

harrassment “The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction includes the State of Maryland) recently issued a significant decision regarding the issue of workplace harassment. Overruling prior precedent, the Court in Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainbleau Corp. held that a single incident of workplace harassment, if serious enough, can indeed form the basis for a viable harassment claim against the employee’s employer. In this case, a black hotel cocktail server who worked at the subject hotel was fired after she complained that a white co-employee directed egregious racial epithets toward her within a one day period. The trial court that dealt with the claim initially granted summary judgment to the employer (effectively precluding further processing of the claim against the Hotel). The employee appealed the grant of summary judgment to the Fourth Circuit which then  overruled prior governing Fourth Circuit precedent when it explained that it would no longer dismiss,  out-of-hand, allegations of workplace harassment that rose to a level of particular seriousness, even though such actions may have occurred in a  very constricted period of time. Thus the Fourth Circuit reversed the granting of summary judgment in the Employer’s favor and ordered that the case be sent back to the trial court for a full blown trial on the merits of whether the Employer, under the circumstances of this particular case, should be found liable for workplace harassment violative of Title VII. From a practical standpoint, the Court’s decision again highlights the importance of very expansive written workplace harassment policies, and the need for continuing training of supervisory employees regarding how to prevent and deal with workplace harassment issues. For more detailed assistance on any of these issues you may contact Mr. Kurman at click here. Other topics covered in the second May telebrief included a recent Senate hearing in which Republicans criticized the EEOC’s backlog of charges, and practical advice on specific Handbook policies arising out of specific client questions brought to his attention in the recent past. To read more or to listen to the May 27th Telebrief, or to listen to past telebrief segments, please click here.  


Geared to executives with employee relations responsibilities (HR directors, supervisors, managers, business owners), Labor and Employment Telebriefs® are information-packed 30 minute briefings via the telephone. Telebriefs® provide information and insights to help executives stay current with latest workplace law developments and in front of trends so as to enable proactive policy making and management . On the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month, from 9 – 9:30 am ET, join Offit Kurman Labor & Employment Chair Howard Kurman, as he discusses developments occurring over the past two weeks that will most significantly impact employers nationwide. The focus is squarely on the practical. Why is this event significant for employers? What are the lessons to be learned or actions taken? These twice-monthly teleconferences are an easy way to stay current and compliant with the latest Labor and Employment law developments that will significantly affect you and your company.  Our guarantee: You will learn something useful, on every call! If you have any questions regarding  labor and employment issues please contact Howard Kurman: | 410.209.6417


Howard Kurman website Howard K. Kurman is Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department. Mr. Kurman regularly counsels clients on all aspects of proactive employment/labor issues. He represents employers ranging in size from as small as 20 employees to those employers with geographically disparate locations consisting of over 4,000 employees. Mr. Kurman assures, through regular contact with his clients, that they promulgate and maintain the most effective employment policies that will, to the extent possible, minimize their legal exposure in today’s litigious workplace.

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