In May of 2013, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky decided a case that involved a woman who claims she was wrongfully terminated. (See Farmer v. Dixon Electrical Systems and Contracting, Inc., 2013 WL 2405547 (E.D. Ky 2013)). The plaintiff worked at a job site constructing a new hospital. One defendant had the job and then subcontracted with the other defendant to perform the electrical work on the project. Id. The female plaintiff worked for them for about six months and was terminated for smoking at the site. After she was fired, the Louisville wrongfully terminated female plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC alleging a hostile work environment and retaliation. Id.
At the job site, the men used portable urinals that were somewhat open and allowed plaintiff to on occasion see the men urinating. Id. The plaintiff did complain to her union agent that the portalets were embarrassing and humiliating. Id.
At the job site, employees were not allowed to smoke inside the construction site. Id. The defendants had an automatic termination policy if caught smoking on the third floor. Id. Plaintiff was caught smoking and was terminated. The plaintiff then hired a Louisville wrongful termination lawyer and filed an EEOC charge alleging that the use of the portalets violated her civil rights.
“To make a prima facie showing of discrimination under Title VII, … must show: 1) that she is a member of a protected class, 2) that she suffered an adverse employment action, 3)_ that she was qualified for her position, and 4) that a similarly situated employee outside the protected class was treated more favorably.” (cites omitted). This court held that the female plaintiff satisfied the first three elements, but failed on the fourth. Id. Men were fired for smoking in the same area.
The defendants in this case had a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for firing the female Louisville wrongful termination plaintiff; she was caught smoking in area where she was not supposed to or allowed to be smoking in. She could then not provide a showing that the reason for her firing was pretextual.
As to her claim of sexual harassment, the court dismissed that claim as well. The other women working at the hospital site were not similarly offended by the portalets. Id. And many of the male coworkers were equally embarrassed by them as the women and thus gender was not a valid reason for her being embarrassed. Id. Further, there was no hostile work environment as the incidents did not rise to the necessary level of severity. The female plaintiff seeing some men coworkers urinate did not constitute a hostile work environment. Thought the court did say that her seeing this may have been upsetting and humiliating, it did not translate into a cause of action. “Title VII is not a “a general civility code for the American workplace.”” (cites omitted).
Finally, as to the Louisville plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), the court dismissed this count as well in that under Kentucky law, a plaintiff cannot sue under both the KCRA and the common law tort of IIED. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville wrongful termination case, please call and speak to a Louisville wrongful termination lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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