Court Dismisses Doctor’s Race, Sex-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Against Mt. Sinai

The court’s decision in Varughese v. Mount Sinai Med. Ctr., No. 12 CIV. 8812 CM JCF, 2015 WL 1499618 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2015) provides an example of what circumstances will not give rise to an actionable hostile work environment claim. From the decision:

In the end, [d]etermining whether workplace harassment was severe or pervasive enough to be actionable depends on the totality of the circumstances. Here, the totality of the circumstances do not even remotely suggest that Varughese was the victim of a hostile work environment, either because she was a woman or because she was of Indian descent. If there is any suggestion of hostility at all-a proposition very much in dispute-the entirety of the evidence points to Varughese’s uncooperative, insubordinate attitude as its root cause. The statutes she invokes do not protect Varughese from the consequences of her own behavior. Varughese has failed to provide evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that any dislike was based on her race or her sex.

Consideration of the totality of Varughese’s employment does not yield any evidence of an environment severely or pervasively infected with discriminatory hostility on the basis of her gender and/or her race. It merely reveals that, when she acted out, there were consequences, and that she happened to be a woman of Indian descent. But again, “I am a member of a protected class; my workplace was hostile; it must have been because of my protected class,” is a logical fallacy that does not insulate a plaintiff from summary judgment where the undisputed facts warrant dismissal of her claims as a matter of law.

The court therefore granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on her hostile work environment claim. (It also dismissed her other claims, including for discriminatory termination and retaliation.)

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