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Bercy v. City of Phoenix(9th Cir. 22-16463 5/30/24) Hostile Work Environment Damages | Bankruptcy Estate

By May 30, 2024June 24th, 2024Uncategorized

Affirming the district court’s summary judgment in an employment discrimination action under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the panel held that the plaintiff’s claim belonged to her bankruptcy estate, and only the bankruptcy trustee had standing to sue on the claim.

The plaintiff brought a hostile work environment claim against her employer, alleging a single course of conduct that continued over a period of nearly two years. She filed her bankruptcy petition within that two-year period. She thus sought damages on a claim for alleged harm arising from discriminatory conduct that occurred in part after she filed for bankruptcy. The parties correctly agreed that a claim based on conduct before the petition, and any damages resulting from that conduct, belonged to the bankruptcy estate. Because the plaintiff could have brought her claim at the time of her bankruptcy petition, and any subsequent damages were sufficiently rooted in prebankruptcy incidents, the panel held that the entire claim belonged to the bankruptcy estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1).