SW Legal studies in Business

Single Sexist Comment Insufficient for Sexual Harassment or Retaliation Claim
Description The Supreme Court held that a woman who heard a sexist comment while at a committee meeting did not have sufficient grounds to sue for sexual harassment. Further, the fact that the employer transferred her was not shown to be retaliation for her EEOC complaint since the transfer had been discussed previously.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sex Discrimination; Retaliation; Causation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Breeden worked for a school district in Nevada. She attended a meeting with two male workers. One of the men made a sexist joke to the other male, but it was not directed at Breeden, who complained to her supervisor about the incident. Breeden filed a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC. Soon after, she was transferred to another position, a move that she had known for some time might occur. She added a charge of retaliation to her complaint. The district court dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed for Breeden. The school district appealed to the Supreme Court.
Decision Reversed. Per curiam. "No reasonable person could have believed that the single incident recounted above violated Title VII's standard." This was an isolated incident that could not be considered "extremely serious" as would be needed to justify such a suit. Breeden even admitted that the incident "did not bother or upset her." Her claim of retaliation also fails because her employer was already contemplating her transfer prior to her filing the EEOC complaint. There is not sufficient evidence to believe that the employer's action was retaliation.
Citation Clark County School District v. Breeden, 121 S.Ct. 1508 (Sup. Ct., 2001)

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