Legal Question in Discrimination Law in Texas

My wife is a school teacher and rotates responsibilities with staff on weekly basis for "bus duty." This is to ensure children are either picked up by the correct parent or board the correct bus. Today during bus duty it began to rain and my wife was soaked. The principal refused to allow her to return home to change clothes prior to attending a school workforce meeting. My wife is currently pregnant and becoming sick from being soaked and freezing cold is a serious concern. Does this define a "hostile work environment?"

Asked on 9/19/13, 2:42 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

It's certainly unpleasant but it would not qualify as a hostile work environment under federal or state anti-discrimination law. A hostile work environment, as a matter of law, occurs when an employee suffers under pervasive or severe harassment on the basis of a protected trait/status or exercise of certain legal rights. Being soaked and catching a cold is not a protected trait or status.

If your wife was the only person who asked to go home or the school would normally allow people to go home then there may be an argument to be made that she is being discriminated against on the basis of her pregnancy, which is a prohibited form of discrimination. However, I would not automatically assume that is the case.

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Answered on 9/19/13, 9:08 pm

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