A Postal Employee alleged that he was subjected to discrimination on the basis of national origin (Russian American) when his supervisor used abusive and forceful language regarding the employee’s inability to read English. The EEOC found that while single incidents often are not enough to state a claim of discriminatory harassment, in this case the incident was of sufficient severity to warrant further processing because the supervisor used forceful and abusive language in a manner designed to humiliate the employee and said it in the presence of a number of his coworkers. Therefore, the EEOC reversed the Postal Service’s decision to dismiss the complaint.
November 16, 2007
Complainant filed a timely appeal with this Commission from the agency’s decision dated July 31, 2006, dismissing his complaint of unlawful employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Upon review, the Commission finds that complainant’s complaint was improperly dismissed pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(1) for failure to state a claim.
In a complaint dated July 1, 2006, complainant alleged that he was subjected to discrimination on the basis of national origin (Russian American) when, on April 17, 2006, complainant’s supervisor said to him “If you can’t read English get the f*** out. This is my country.” This statement was made in response to complainant telling his supervisor he could not read English when he was given a Safety Service talk to read and sign. Several of complainant’s coworkers are alleged to have witnessed the incident.
The Commission has held that where a complaint does not challenge an agency action or inaction regarding a specific term, condition, or privilege of employment, the claim may survive as evidence of harassment if it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the complainant’s employment. See Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993); Enforcement Guidance on Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., EEOC Notice No. 915.002 (March 8, 1994). In the instant case, the Commission finds that complainant has stated a claim of national origin harassment. While single incidents often are not enough to state a claim of discriminatory harassment, in this case we find the incident of sufficient severity to warrant further processing. In making this determination, we took into account that the incident involved complainant’s immediate supervisor, that it concerned complainant telling the supervisor that he was unable to read safety-related work material, that the supervisor used forceful and abusive language in a manner designed to humiliate complainant and said in the presence of a number of complainant’s coworkers, and that the remark directly related to complainant’s national origin and ability to communicate in English.
Accordingly, the agency’s final decision to dismiss the complaint is reversed and the complaint is remanded to the agency for further processing in accordance with the following Order.
Oleg Teterkin v. John E. Potter