Court Dismisses Sexual Harassment (Hostile Work Environment) Claim; Too Much Time Beween Two Supporting Incidents

In Magnusson v. Cty. of Suffolk, No. 14-cv-3449, 2016 WL 2889002 (E.D.N.Y. May 17, 2016), the court dismissed plaintiff’s gender and sexual orientation-based hostile work environment claims. As to her sexual harassment claim, the court explained that too much time passed between the two incidents cited in support of that claim:

There is little doubt that a jury might reasonably conclude that a male supervisor subjecting a subordinate female employee to a scantily-clad photo and body-measurement session under coercive circumstances and then showing those photographs to co-workers, as Plaintiff alleges occurred, is both severe and humiliating. However, these two (2) alleged incidents occurred more than nine (9) years apart, and there are no credible allegations that these remote events “unreasonably interfered with [Plaintiff’s] job performance,” from either a subjective or objective viewpoint. Indeed, Plaintiff elected not to pursue any complaints against Spence following the April 2003 incident, proceeded to work under his supervision for the next nine (9) years without any alleged incidents of sexual harassment, and earned two (2) promotions during that period. In these circumstances, a jury could not reasonably conclude that these events, occurring nine (9) years apart, were “sufficiently severe to alter the conditions of [Plaintiff’s] employment and create an abusive working environment” from either an objective or subjective standpoint, and summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim is appropriate.

The court also dismissed plaintiff’s sexual orientation harassment claim, reasoning: “Sexual orientation discrimination is not actionable under Title VII, and plaintiffs may not shoehorn what are truly claims of sexual orientation discrimination into Title VII by framing them as claims of discrimination based on gender stereotypes, as Plaintiff at times attempts to do here.”

Share This: