Friday, February 16, 2018

Case of the Day: Xu v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Wis. Sys., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10406 (W.D. Wis. Jan. 22, 2018)


Plaintiff is a Chinese American librarian of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Plaintiff disputed with her supervisor as to how to categorize a Chinese language newspaper published in Taiwan of the 1940s, when Taiwan was a Japanese colony. Although the newspaper was originally categorized under "China," the supervisor re-categorized the paper under a new category of "Taiwan" following a suggestion from a student. Plaintiff and the supervisor engaged in a heated argument about the decision, and the plaintiff received a negative performance review as a result. The plaintiff also collapsed due to high blood pressure during this episode. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for hostile work environment.

The court granted summary judgment for the defendant. The court found that defendant university's decision to create a new "Taiwan" category was not an adverse employment action, and nor were a negative performance review and some internal consideration about terminating the plaintiff's employment.


The plaintiff here was a pro se, which makes sense: no employment attorney worth her salt would take this case, especially when the damages are de minimis. It is hard enough to win an employment discrimination case when the employee is actually fired. At any rate, this is another example of Asian historical dispute washing ashore of the U.S. courts.

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