Corporations Can’t Be Harassed

By Bill Wright

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has identified one way in which corporations aren’t people: corporations can’t suffer a hostile work-environment. Allstate Sweeping, L.L.C. v. Black, No. 12-1027 (10th Cir. February 7, 2013). In this case, a woman-owned power-washing company alleged (among other claims) that an African American municipal employee created a hostile work environment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Specifically, Allstate Sweeping LLC asserted that Black made its contract with the city unprofitable and made its owners’ lives miserable. The Tenth Circuit noted: A hostile work-environment claim requires proof that the plaintiff was offended by the work environment. “Being offended presupposes feelings or thoughts that an artificial entity (as opposed to its employees or owners) cannot experience.” (Emphasis in original.)

So even if you have a corporation with a heart, it’s still not a person–at least according to the Tenth Circuit.

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