Jon Henry, an employee in the facilities maintenance department, filed claims of discrimination and harassment against the University after he found a noose hanging in the inventory warehouse. He lost on summary judgment and appealed.
The Ninth Circuit ruled that the trial court did not err by excluding some of Henry's allegations from consideration. Under both Title VII and the FEHA, an employee must exhaust his administrative remedies by filing a complaint either with the EEOC or DFEH. Any incidents not included in an EEOC charge may not later be considered by a federal court unless they are like or are reasonably related to the allegations in the charge.
Henry's July 2012 charge only included one incident. He did state he was harassed and discriminated against because of his race, but such generalizations do not constitute a factual allegation. The incident he mentioned was the discovery of a noose in the warehouse. He then listed additional incidents in his complaint and brief, but they were not related to or like the noose incident and thus could not be considered by the court. The court noted that the University conducted an investigation consisting of nearly 40 interviews and was not able to substantiate any of Henry's other allegations or uncover any racist or discriminatory behavior in that department.
Henry's hostile environment claim failed because he did not show conduct that was sufficiently severe or pervasive. Generally one isolated incident, unless extremely serious, does not constitute a hostile environment. Henry did not provide any evidence, outside his own assumptions, that he noose was either racially motivated or targeted at him.
With respect to the retaliation claim, Henry was unable to show he was subjected to any adverse employment action. He was not fired, suspended, disciplined, demoted, or put on leave without pay. He did not show any harm that would dissuade a similarly situated employee from complaining of discrimination. The trial court's decision was affirmed.
Jon Henry v. Regents of the University of California, San Francisco, (2016) –Fed.Appx.--, 2016 WL 1056650.