Adams v. Festival Fun Parks LLC
Allegations that a co-worker called the plaintiff "stupid," asked, "What the heck is wrong with you?" and said, "Get down on your knees," may be insufficient to prove a prima facie case of hostile-work environment. In 2008, the defendant hired the plaintiff, Andrew Adams, as a mechanical helper at Lake Compounce. Adams, who experienced difficulty with his memory, alleged discrimination on the basis of disability, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 United States Code §12101, because a co-worker allegedly harassed him. To prove a prima facie case, Adams must establish: 1.) his employer was subject to the ADA; 2.) he was disabled; 3.) he was otherwise qualified to perform essential job functions; and 4.) he suffered adverse employment action, because of his disability. Adams failed to produce admissible evidence that he was disabled, other than his testimony. Even if the court credited Adams' testimony, he did not prove he was substantially restricted in his ability to perform a class or broad range of jobs. Adams failed to establish a prima facie case of disability. Adams also alleged hostile-work environment, in violation of Title VII. To prove a prima facie case, Adams must establish: 1.) the workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, sufficiently severe to alter the work environment; and 2.) a specific basis exists to impute conduct that created a hostile environment to the employer. "Simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents of offensive conduct (unless extremely serious) will not support a claim of discriminatory harassment," pursuant to the 2nd Circuit's 2004 decision, Petrosino v. Bell Atlantic. Allegedly, Walters called Adams "stupid," asked, "What the heck is wrong with you?" and said, "Get down on your knees." A reasonable individual would not find that these isolated incidents created a workplace permeated with discriminatory intimidation, based on gender, and sufficiently severe to alter the working environment. Even if they did, Adams admitted that the harassing conduct ceased when Adams complained to his main supervisor. The court was unable to impute the alleged conduct to the defendant employer. The court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment.