Gavriela Bogin-Farber quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on Northampton school employee’s hostile work environment claim

March 9, 2021

Gavriela M. Bogin-Farber, senior associate in the firm’s Employment Department and president of Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association (MELA), was quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly‘s (MLW) on March 5, 2021. The article, “Snap Judgements: Smith College employee’s hostile work environment claim,” included local attorneys’ takes on the question of whether an employer’s diversity and inclusion program can go too far and result in an actionable hostile work environment for white employees. The claim in question is that of a longtime Smith College employee who claimed to be the victim of a hostile work environment that resulted when the college increased diversity and inclusion initiatives in response to an alleged racist incident that occurred on campus in 2018.

Read the full article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscriber content).

Gavi’s quote from the article:

“To me, it’s the wrong question. Diversity and inclusion programs should have been happening a long time ago, and it’s great that institutions are broadly starting to engage in these issues and deal with the insidious effects of structural racism. Does that mean there could never be a hostile work environment claim by a white employee? No, of course not. But in the [Smith College case], I don’t see how the training is causing the hostile environment. I see how talking about implicit biases and white privilege can make people feel uncomfortable. These issues are not easy for white people to think and talk about. But one of the requirements for a hostile work environment is the action has to be severe or pervasive. It’s a case that a good lawyer could make, but I do think it would be a tough one.”