United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. McCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hulings, an 18-year employee of Southwest Airlines Co.,
brings federal and state claims alleging that Southwest
subjected her to a hostile work environment based on her
gender and retaliation because she complained about it. The
dispute arises from an alleged affair Ms. Hulings' female
supervisor had with Ms. Hulings' husband, also a
filed a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 4) asserting that as to
Ms, Hulings' hostile work environment claim, she does not
allege gender-motivated conduct, the conduct alleged did not
relate to her employment, and the conduct was not
sufficiently severe and pervasive. As to Ms. Hulings'
retaliation claim, Southwest asserts that she did not engage
in any protected conduct and she did not suffer any adverse
Hulings responds (ECF No. 8) that her gender was linked
inextricably to her supervisor's discriminatory
harassment actions because the supervisor viewed Ms. Hulings
as a rival for the affections of her husband.
stage of the litigation, taking the allegations in the
complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff, including all reasonable inferences, Ms. Hulings
has plausibly alleged that she was subjected to a hostile
work environment based on her gender. For example, she
• "she had been discriminated on the basis of her
gender, subject to a hostile work environment and subject to
retaliation for opposing unlawful employment practices."
ECF No. 1-1 at 2 ¶ 4.
• "The Defendant discriminated against the
Plaintiff because of her gender and in retaliation for her
opposing what she reasonably believed to be unlawful conduct
in the workplace." Id. at 6 ¶ 27.
• "The Defendant knowingly and purposefully
subjected the Plaintiff to humiliating, discriminatory
treatment because of her gender, " Id.
• "interfering with Plaintiffs right to avail
herself of the full and equal benefit and protection of state
and federal laws intended to prevent discrimination in the
workplace based on gender." Id. at 7 ¶
• "treating her in a hostile, demeaning, and
otherwise unlawful manner and denying her employment
opportunities based on her gender." Id. at 7
• "The unlawful practices engaged in by the
Defendant were motivated by impermissible and unlawful
considerations concerning Plaintiffs gender."
Id. at 8 ¶ 31.
• "But for the Defendant's intent to
discriminate against Plaintiff because of her gender,
Defendant would not have subjected Plaintiff to disparate and
unlawful employment practices! subjected to a hostile work
environment or retaliated against her." Id. at
8 ¶ 32.
effect, Ms. Hulings alleges that because she was a woman,
competing with her supervisor for the affection of her
husband, that her supervisor discriminated against her and
set up a gender based hostile work environment for her.
(E.g., "Plaintiffs supervisor took deliberate and
malicious steps to influence the terms and conditions of
Plaintiffs employment, many of which were taken in an attempt
to further the relationship between her and the Plaintiffs
husband." Id. at 5 ¶ 22.) Presumably, the
supervisor's harassment of Ms. Hulings would not have
occurred if she were not a woman, the preferred sex of the
heterosexual husband/paramour. Bodman v. Me. Dep't of
HHS, 720 F.Supp.2d 115, 119 (D. Me. 2010).
the retaliation claim, Ms. Hulings plausibly alleges that she
objected to the discriminatory and harassing treatment and
therefore was subject to alienation and ostracism by her
supervisor as a result. (E.g., "The Defendant
discriminated against the Plaintiff because of her gender and
in retaliation for her opposing what she reasonably believed
to be unlawful conduct in the workplace. The Defendant
knowingly and purposefully subjected the Plaintiff to
humiliating, discriminatory treatment because of her gender
and because she complained about what she reasonably believed
to be unlawful conduct." Id. at 6 ¶ 27).
She also alleges that she suffered an adverse employment
consequence because Southwest forced her out on medical leave
because of their discriminatory actions. ("This leave
was precipitated by a hostile environment existing in the
workplace, perpetrated by the Plaintiffs immediate supervisor
and others, with the full knowledge and acquiescence of the
Employer." Id. at 4 ¶ 15).