Race/Sex Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation Claims Insufficiently Alleged

In Bell v. McRoberts Protective Agency, No. 15-CV-0963 (JPO), 2016 WL 1688786 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2016), the court held that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege race/gender discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment claims.

The court’s explanation of why the plaintiff’s claims were insufficiently pled is instructive as to what courts look for when evaluating these claims.

Judge Oetken wrote:

even if Bell had alleged adverse employment action, he has not provided any factual “support for the proposition that his employer was motivated by discriminatory intent.” Bell’s pleadings do not describe who assigned him the outdoor tasks, when those assignments began, why he believes he received the assignments, or whether he received tasks that employees of different races and genders did not. Without some factual assertion to support the inference that Bell’s supervisors gave him inferior tasks on the basis of a protected characteristic, Bell’s claim cannot proceed.

Bell’s second claim fails for largely the same reasons. The sum and substance of Bell’s retaliation claim is that he reported a racial slur to his supervisor, who did nothing. Bell does not identify any adverse action taken by MPA after he reported the slur. As described above, Bell does state that he received outdoor assignments that other employees did not. But his pleadings do not specify whether Bell received these assignments before or after he reported the slur. In the absence of some factual assertion to indicate adverse action taken by MPA after and because Bell reported racial slurs, Bell cannot sustain a retaliation claim. …

Bell’s hostile work environment claim is similarly sparse. Bell describes a workplace in which he had to stay on duty beyond the end of his shift, received outdoor assignments, and had at least two altercations with co-workers. But he has not alleged any facts linking these conditions to his race or his gender. Even assuming the treatment Bell received was sufficiently hostile and pervasive to render Bell’s workplace objectively abusive. Bell has not presented any allegations to support the “causal factor requirement[ ]” of a hostile work environment claim. Accordingly, his third Title VII claim must be dismissed.

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