Gender, Race Discrimination Claims Plausibly Alleged Under the NYC Human Rights Law Against Con Edison

In Grimes-Jenkins v. Consolidated Edison Co., No. 16-cv-4897, 2017 WL 2258374 (S.D.N.Y. May 22, 2017), the court held, inter alia, that plaintiff – an African American woman – plausibly alleged gender and race discrimination claims under the NYC Human Rights Law.

As to her gender discrimination claim, the court held:

The plaintiff makes numerous timely allegations that she received inferior treatment because she is a woman. These include Vormittag discouraging her from applying for his supervisory position because “you have young kids and [ ] cannot help your family” (Proposed SAC, ¶ 52), Mr. Gibbs’ lewd remarks to Mr. Barnes in her presence (Proposed SAC, ¶ 57), and supervisors in 2013 giving female mechanics lower ratings and calling them “bottom of the barrel” in her presence. (Proposed SAC, ¶ 58). These incidents amount to more than petty slights and trivial inconveniences, as they reflect a workplace in which the plaintiff was repeatedly demeaned and discouraged from opportunities to advance in the company because she is a woman. Thus, the plaintiff’s pleadings state a colorable sex discrimination claim under the NYCHRL.

The court also held that an alleged reference to slavery was enough to state a claim for race discrimination under the statute:

The only timely allegation that the plaintiff was treated less well than other employees on the basis of race is that she and other black women were referred to as “going to the fields,” whereas white men were referred to as “going to the job,” throughout the duration of her employment.10 (Proposed SAC, ¶ 22). Though this allegation concerns only one offensive phrase that is not connected to any material adverse employment action, its arguable reference to slavery makes it more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience, particularly given that the plaintiff alleges that the phrase was used throughout her time at ConEd by more than ten different supervisors. Thus, the plaintiff’s pleadings also state a colorable claim of race discrimination under the NYCHRL.

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