May 07, 2020 Top Story

Court Can Split Hostile Work Environment Claim into Episodes

Seventh Circuit establishes new test to determine when claims can be severed

By Onika K. Williams

When a plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim is comprised of more than one unlawful employment practice, the claim can be divided into several distinct claims.

The plaintiff sued the sheriff's office for several discriminatory employment practices in violation of the ADA.

The plaintiff sued the sheriff's office for several discriminatory employment practices in violation of the ADA.

NoahBryant | iStockphoto by Getty Images

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, courts can analyze several factors, such as a significant gap between alleged incidents of discrimination, to decide whether a hostile work environment claim should be split into multiple claims. The appellate court also concluded that hostile work environment claims are cognizable under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The case is a reminder that employers should seriously investigate allegations of workplace harassment and take prompt action when necessary.

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