According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an individual may not be discriminated against in the workplace based on race, sex, nation of origin, religion, or disability. For instance, if an individual was being harassed at work, being called racial slurs or sexually derogatory names and management allowed this to continue without addressing the problem, then that individual would have cause to sue under anti-discrimination laws citing a hostile work environment.
Do hostile work environment statutes also apply to public schools?
That is the question before the courts right now as two Yerrington teens have taken their case against Lyon County School District to US District Court in Reno. Two 14-year-olds are alleging that they have been referred to by racial slurs, harassed, bullied, and even threatened. Meanwhile, they contend that school teachers and administrators have done nothing to curb the behavior.
Teachers May be Protecting Their Own Children
Making matters worse, some of the classmates who are doing the bullying are the children of school officials or others with prominent positions of authority in the community. In one particularly egregious incident, the son of the Lyon County sheriff deputy posted a Facebook status showing himself posing with guns. The post was captioned “redneck god of all gods .. we bout to go (racial slur) huntin’”.
While it is likely that the parents and the children themselves will make the argument that this was all a joke, this same kind of behavior would easily result in a discrimination lawsuit verdict in favor of the plaintiff if the plaintiff was in the workforce. Why should it be considered discrimination in schools as well?
Part of the two young women’s case against the school district involves teachers and school administrators being made aware of the issue and doing nothing to remedy the situation. In a discrimination lawsuit, an employee who is alleging harassment is expected to attempt to resolve the situation with managers or human resources. When that fails, and the situation continues, a verdict or settlement in favor of the plaintiff is likely.
The girls are alleging that, despite numerous attempts to bring problems to light, teachers and administration often came to the defense of the racists. This further created an environment that nurtured and permitted racist bullying toward the two young girls. It prevented them from accessing educational opportunities and after-school activities. If that does not describe a hostile work environment, it is hard to say what would.
deny funding for programs that discriminate on the basis of race, the young women were not themselves explicitly denied access to the school or any of its programs. The students felt so alienated and outright intimidated by other students at the school, that they did not feel comfortable engaging in what the school had to offer.
Has Discrimination Impacted Your Employment Opportunities?
If so, you may be entitled to damages. The Nevada law offices of HKM Employment Law have handled many claims brought by employees alleging a hostile work environment. Give us a call at 702.625.3893 and we will begin discussing your case and the evidence you need to make it.