Clark County School Dist. v. Breeden, 532 U.S. 268 (2001)

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on petition for writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 00-866. Decided April 23, 2001

At a meeting with respondent and a male employee to review job applicants' psychological evaluation reports, respondent's male supervisor read aloud a sexually explicit remark that one applicant had made to a co-worker, looked at respondent, and stated, "I don't know what that means." The other employee replied, "Well, I'll tell you later," and both men chuckled. Respondent complained about the comment to the offending supervisor and other officials of their employer, petitioner Clark County School District. Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she subsequently filed a 42 U. S. C. 2000e-3(a) retaliation claim against petitioner, asserting that she was punished for these complaints and also for filing charges against petitioner with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and for filing the present suit. The District Court granted petitioner summary judgment, but the Ninth Circuit reversed.

Held: Respondent's claims are insufficient to withstand a summary judgment motion. No one could reasonably believe that the incident of which respondent complained violated Title VII. Sexual harassment is actionable under Title VII only if it is so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment. Faragher v. Boca Raton, 524 U. S. 775, 786. Simple teasing, offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to discriminatory changes in employment terms and conditions. The actions of respondent's supervisor and co-worker are at worst an isolated incident that cannot remotely be considered "extremely serious." Regarding respondent's claim that she was punitively transferred for filing charges and the present suit, she failed to show the requisite causal connection between her protected activities and the transfer. Petitioner did not implement the transfer until 20 months after respondent filed her charges, and it was contemplating the transfer before it learned of her suit.

Certiorari granted; 232 F. 3d 893, reversed.

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