“Crazy Black Bitch” Comment Insufficient to Establish Hostile Work Environment

In Rogers v. Bank of New York Mellon, No. 09 CIV. 8551 (HBP), 2016 WL 4362204 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 15, 2016), the court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s various claims, including hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and race/color pay discrimination.

As to her hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

The only comment identified by plaintiff that arguably refers to race or gender –– that an unidentified person called her a “crazy black bitch” – fails to give rise to a genuine issue of fact as to the existence of a hostile environment. Plaintiff does not identify the speaker or provide context for the alleged discrimination. This single comment, although offensive, is at best a stray remark and is not sufficiently severe or pervasive to support a hostile environment claim. …

Plaintiff’s allegations that certain white male employees kept allegedly racially offensive “Homies” figurines, ethnic hair care products and an offensive 50-Cent poster on or around their desks are also insufficient to sustain a hostile environment claim. Plaintiff does not assert that these materials were directed at her race or gender; she testified that she told her supervisor that “some of the employees on the west side have things that could be deemed offensive” Plaintiff also could not remember when or for how long the materials were displayed and could not identify which figurines were on the employees’ desks, belying any claim that their display was “continuous” and “pervasive.” No reasonable jury could find that the presence of these materials was sufficiently severe and pervasive to constitute a hostile work environment.

The court, however, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s race-based pay discrimination claim:

Assuming … that the other office managers identified in defendants’ chart were similarly situated to plaintiff, there is a question of fact as to whether plaintiff’s lower salary and longer salary cycle reviews were the result of racial discrimination. The chart shows that on the date plaintiff became an office manager, at least two white office managers and one Latino office manager were paid more than plaintiff. It also shows that there were white office managers who were reviewed for raises on a shorter cycle than plaintiff.

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