Court Dismisses Gender Discrimination Claims Based on Allegation That Plaintiff Was “Too Cute”

In Edwards v. Nicolai (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 160830/2013 May 13, 2016), NY Supreme Court Judge Shlomo Hagler dismissed plaintiff’s gender discrimination claim under the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws.

In her Amended Complaint, plaintiff Dilek Edwards alleged that she was terminated because of the jealousy of plaintiff’s boss’s wife, namely, that she thought plaintiff was “too cute”.

In dismissing the case, the court noted that plaintiff’s complaint

includes no other fact or allegation to support a discrimination cause of action, including any allegation that plaintiff was treated differently than male employees, which may colorably give rise to a claim for sex discrimination at the pleading stage. There is no allegation … that plaintiff was terminated because of her status as a woman. The court is unable to find a case interpreting either the [New York State Human Rights Law] or the [New York City Human Rights Law] which holds that a termination motivated by spousal jealousy alone[] constitutes gender or sex based discrimination[.]

The court also rejected plaintiff’s (late-submitted) claim of “appearance based discrimination”, based on the NYCHRL’s definition of “gender” in NYC Admin. Code 8-102(23) to include “appearance”.

Specifically, it held that plaintiff “failed to plead … in sufficient detail what the term ‘too cute’ is alleged to mean”, and “failed to allege that a reference to ‘too cute’ is gender related, namely that the term was applied by plaintiff herein to men and women differently.”

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