Westendorf v. West Coast Contractors

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: 04-01-2013
  • Case #: 11-16004
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sr. Circuit Court Judge Arnold for the Court; Circuit Judges Bybee; Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Rawlinson
  • Full Text Opinion

A prima facie case of employment discrimination requires a showing that the conduct is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would find it hostile or abusive; a claim for retaliation, however, only requires a showing the plaintiff engaged in a protected activity and was treated adversely for it.

Jennifer Westendorf appealed from summary judgment on claims of sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge under Title VII against her previous employer West Coast Contractors. Westendorf reported that her employer had made comments to her about another worker’s breasts, asked her to clean the office in a “maid’s uniform,” and criticized and belittled her in front of other employees. Westendorf reported the harassment for the first time on July 14th and on July 29th was asked to leave the job. The Ninth Circuit held that Westendorf did not find evidence sufficient for a prima facie case of sexual discrimination because the evidence did not support a finding that the conduct was “so severe or pervasive that it altered the conditions of her employment and created a work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile or abusive. However, the panel did find the district court erred in granting summary judgment against Westendorf’s claim of retaliation. The prima facie case of retaliation, which requires that the employee engages in protected activity and is treated adversely for it, was sufficiently met.

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