Related to the previous post, in Churchill v. Prince George’s Cty. Pub. Sch., the plaintiff also brought a claim for a hostile work environment based on her gender under Title VII and the MFEPA.

In order to successfully bring such a claim, a plaintiff must allege that she was subjected to “offending conduct” that was (1) unwelcome, (2) because of her gender, (3) sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create an abusive working environment, and (4) imputable to her employer.

The defendant argued that the claim should be dismissed because the plaintiff’s allegations were solely based on sexual orientation discrimination which is not covered by Title VII. 

The court noted an important distinction that, although the plaintiff’s claims for sexual orientation discrimination could not be brought under Title VII, the Supreme Court has held that claims alleging hostile work environments may be brought based on gender stereotypes. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 , 251-55 (1989).

Maryland Courts interpreting Price Waterhouse have held that “sex” under Title VII encompasses both sex—that is, the biological differences between men and women—and socially-constructed gender expectations.