Brooklyn Trial Court Holds that Plaintiff Sufficiently Alleged Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Under the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Assault, and Battery

In Rudzinski v. Jonathan L. Glashow, MD, PC, No. 502170/16, 2017 WL 1711665 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 1, 2017), the court held that plaintiff’s complaint contained sufficient facts to state a cognizable claim for violation of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws for unlawful discrimination and unlawful retaliation, as well as claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

Here are plaintiff’s allegations, as paraphrased/summarized by the court:

On May 5, 2015, the Solomon Page Group employment agency placed the plaintiff for a job with Jonathan L. Glashow, M.D., PC. The employment began with a temporary probationary period which was to last for three months. Carter interviewed and hired the plaintiff as her executive assistant. The job site was at 737 Park Avenue, Suite 1C, New York, New York. Plaintiff was paid through Solomon Page Group at the rate of fifteen dollars per hour.

As her direct supervisor, Carter had the authority to hire, fire, promote and sanction the plaintiff. Carter used her position and authority to immediately commence targeting the plaintiff for discrimination based on her sex, gender and heterosexual orientation. Carter communicated her personal interest in the plaintiff and made numerous intrusive inquiries about her personal life and sexual history. Carter revealed her bi-sexual orientation to the plaintiff in the course of repeated and unwanted sexual advances. Carter printed out and handed the plaintiff a copy of her personal profile from a website geared toward BDSM.3 Carter advised the plaintiff to fill out a checklist about her own BDSM preferences. Carter also repeatedly talked to the plaintiff about the BDSM sexual practices that she and her husband engaged in with other people.

Plaintiff’s probationary period was set to expire in August of 2015. Carter used her supervisory position to pressure the plaintiff into moving into her home on a temporary basis. The pressure included reprimanding plaintiff about her job performance and advising her if she agreed to stay at Carter’s home, her performance would be viewed more favorably. Carter also threatened to terminate plaintiff’s employment if she did not move into her home. Plaintiff ultimately acquiesced to the pressure and moved in. Thereafter, Carter continued to harass the plaintiff at work and in Carter’s home. While in Carter’s home, Carter’s husband also began harassing the plaintiff by groping her breasts and forcibly kissing her without her consent.

At some point the plaintiff complained to a co-worker named Ms. Juhi regarding Carter’s conduct. Ms. Juhi attempted to mediate the issue between plaintiff and Carter. Dr. Glashow became aware of plaintiff’s claim regarding Carter’s harassing conduct and involved his attorneys to investigate the matter. Plaintiff was unable to proceed with the investigation because of the severe emotional distress suffered as a result of Carter’s conduct. Dr. Glashow then used her alleged failure to cooperate as a pretext for firing her.

These allegations, held the court, were sufficient to state a claim against Carter.

As for the Glashow defendants, the court held “a reasonable inference may be drawn that the Glashow defendants knew or should have known of Carter’s improper conduct by a reasonable supervision of its employees at the worksite” and noted that those defendants “did not submit any evidence conclusively demonstrating that they were not aware of, or did not encourage, or condone Carter’s improper conduct.”

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