Case: 09-10183 Document: 00511475175 Page: 7 Date Filed: 05/12/2011
actions were based on race. A wide range of behaviors can make a workplace uncivil, but these plaintiffs must show as one of the factors for their Title VII claim that the events were based on race. Id.
Also rejected was proof of events that these plaintiffs had not personally experienced or that were directed to persons of a different racial background. The district court reasoned this way:
To establish a hostile work environment claim, however, a plaintiff must personally experience racial harassment. The court will therefore consider the harassment that a reasonable jury could find that plaintiffs experienced. See, e.g., Septimus v. Univ. of Houston, 399 F.3d 601, 612 (5th Cir. 2005) (holding that harassment experienced by other women was irrelevant when determining whether harassment that plaintiff experienced was sufficiently severe or pervasive to establish hostile work environment claim).
Arrieta, 2008 WL 5220569 at *26. We examine the case the district court cited.
In Septimus, the plaintiff claimed she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her sex, relying in part on evidence regarding treatment of other women. Septimus, 399 F.3d at 612. We noted that the plaintiff “did not personally experience most (if not all) of the conduct complained of by the other women.” Id. The incidents directed at the plaintiff were “collectively insufficient” to avoid summary judgment. Id. “All of Septimus’s other summary judgment evidence on this claim pertained to other women in the [Office of General Counsel], not Septimus, and therefore is not relevant.” Id. Our opinion never identified the evidence regarding other women nor did it explain its reasoning. That makes it an uncertain precedent that evidence regarding other workers is never relevant. We at most know that the evidence was not relevant in that case. Septimus is a reminder, though, that the harassment must have affected “a term, condition, or privilege” of the “victim’s” employment. Ramsey, 286 F.3d at 268.