Co-Worker Harassment Suit Dismissed Due to Failure to Allege Aiding and Abetting Theory Against Individual Defendant

The Second Department’s recent decision in Croci v. Town of Haverstraw et al. is instructive as to how to plead causes of action, under the New York State Human Rights Law, against co-workers engaging in allegedly discriminatory conduct.

In this case plaintiff sued one of her co-employees and their employer, alleging “ that she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment in violation of Executive Law § 296.”

The trial court denied the co-worker’s motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action under Executive Law § 296(6). That section provides:

It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of any of the acts forbidden under this article, or to attempt to do so.

In finding that the trial court should have dismissed plaintiff’s claim against the co-worker, the court reasoned:

The first cause of action is premised upon an allegation that LoBlanco’s conduct and comments created a hostile work environment, and that the Town knew or should have known of this conduct but failed to take appropriate remedial actions. Since the plaintiff failed to allege that LoBlanco aided, abetted, incited, compelled, or coerced the Town’s alleged discriminatory behavior, she has not sufficiently pleaded a cause of action pursuant to Executive Law § 296(6).

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