Roth v. DeFeliceCare, Inc.

Plaintiff brought a hostile work environment claim, among others.  She witnessed her supervisor and another employee in a compromising position.  Her supervisor threatened her with the loss of employment and her license if she shared what she had witnessed.  She promised to remain silent and shortly thereafter went on vacation.  When she returned, her supervisor fired her, stating that he did not like the way she dressed or styled her hair.  Plaintiff was an at-will employee at the time of termination.  Plaintiff alleged that she “was subjected to improper and sexually explicit conduct by her superiors … thereby creating a hostile and abusive environment in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.”  To state a claim for 13 under the West Virginia Human Rights Act, a plaintiff must prove “(1) the subject conduct was unwelcome; (2) it was based on the sex of the plaintiff; (3) it was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the … [plaintiff’s] conditions of employment and create an abusive work environment, and (4) it was imputable on some factual basis to the employer.”  The Court also held that “an employee may state a claim for hostile environment 13 if unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”  The Court held that plaintiff sufficiently pled a cause of action for hostile workplace and overturned the lower court’s grant of a motion to dismiss.



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