Tenth Circuit tightens up on Title VII claims
In a case titled Sanderson v. Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Tenth Circuit tightened up on a plaintiff’s ability to bring Title VII claims.
First, the Tenth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on the plaintiff’s retaliation claim because she had not alleged it in her EEOC Charge of Discrimination. In her EEOC Charge, she’d alleged retaliation after she was demoted, but when she sued, she added a claim for retaliation based on events before her demotion. Because her EEOC Charge did not allege the latter, the Tenth Circuit held she had failed to exhaust Title VII’s administrative requirements.
Second, the Tenth Circuit affirmed exclusion of her offered expert “who, based on her own experience (not experience specific to the employer), would have testified about gender stereotypes in law enforcement.” The Tenth Circuit agreed with the trial court that no expert testimony is appropriate on such a topic “because gender stereotypes are within the jur(y)’s common knowledge and experience.”
Third, the Tenth Circuit then ruled for the plaintiff, reversing summary judgment, holding a jury trial was warranted on her claim of a hostile work environment based on her sex. The Tenth Circuit held that persistent “rumors … that she engaged in sexual relationships with colleagues and supervisors,” allegations by coworkers that she’d engaged in “flirting with non-colleagues” while on duty, were sufficient to warrant trial, especially where she’d once been ordered “to answer her radio when she was ‘douching,'” which was of course a clearly derogatory (alleged) comment on the basis of her gender. In addition she’d offered circumstantial evidence suggesting her colleagues excluded her because of her gender, where for example one coworker had bought everyone a breakfast burrito but her.