Hotel Cleaner’s Retaliation, Hostile Work Environment, Constructive Discharge Claims Insufficiently Alleged

In Febrianti v. Worldwide, No. 15-CV-0635 (JMF), 2016 WL 50202 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 8, 2016), the court dismissed plaintiff’s retaliation, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge claims.

Here, plaintiff, who identifies as a Southeast Asian non-Chinese speaker, worked for defendant as a cleaner in the Union Square W Hotel. She alleged, among other things, that

she was subjected to numerous criticisms, comments, and demotions. For example, she alleges that one colleague told her “we are Dominican and we don’t like [you].” She contends also that more junior employees received preferential treatment in work assignments and that she was no longer able to enjoy certain work benefits, such as the ability to claim overtime jobs. She alleges that Defendants disclosed her personnel files to her colleagues, which led to additional hostility. Plaintiff further describes an “incident” that took place on February 28, 2014, when she was accused of violating company policy by soliciting money from her coworkers. She alleges that her coworkers made comments that she was a “trouble maker” and accused her of stealing.

In dismissing plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims fail as a matter of law. To prevail on such a claim, a plaintiff must show that his or her workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment. That is, Title VII forbids only behavior so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment. Here, Plaintiff fails to plausibly allege behavior so extraordinarily severe … to have altered the conditions of her working environment. Most of her allegations of mistreatment or unkind comments from her coworkers bear no connection to Plaintiff’s race or national origin, despite the fact that she references her co-workers’ race and national origin in describing their behavior. The few allegations that arguably do raise an inference of racial animus by no means indicate a severe or pervasive pattern of discrimination, particularly given the time period across which they are spread. (See, e.g., [plaintiff’s complaint which[] alleg[es] that a coworker told Plaintiff “I know you don’t like white people” and, in 2008, “this is not your country” [and] that, in 2011, a coworker asked her “are you sure you are not from Cambodia[?]”[]. That is plainly insufficient to state a hostile work environment claim under Title VII.

In dismissing plaintiff’s retaliation claim, the court explained that “[v]iewed in context … th[e] [alleged] handful of isolated incidents across the span of almost one year does not comprise actions that are harmful to the point that they could well dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination” but rather “fall into the category of the sorts of petty slights and personality conflicts that are not actionable under Title VII.”

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