Punishment for Refusal to Engage in Sex With Clients Sufficient to Overcome Summary Judgment on Gender Discrimination/Hostile Work Environment Claims Against Russian & Turkish Baths

In Shellogg v. DST Russian and Turkish Bath, Inc. et al, 2017 WL 6602277, 2017 NY Slip Op 51914(U) (App. Term, 1st Dept. Dec. 22, 2017) (unpublished), the court reversed summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff’s claims of gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

Here are the facts, as summarized by the court:

Plaintiff, an esthetician and reflexologist at the Russian and Turkish Bathhouse operated by defendants, alleged in her deposition and in her affidavit that, from the inception of her employment, defendants expected her to engage in sexual activities with male customers; that when she refused, she was reprimanded and not referred any clients for certain periods, thereby reducing her income; that she was told that she was not a ‘team player‘ because of her refusal to engage in sexual activities with clients; that she was subjected to vulgar sexual comments and hostile actions by other employees; and that defendants did not take any action in response to her complaints.

Applying the law, the court held:

Defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s causes of action for unlawful, gender-based employment discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law should not have been granted. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff …, a reasonable person could find that defendants’ conduct created an objectively hostile or abusive environment…, and that defendants retaliated against plaintiff in violation of the New York City and New York State Human Rights Law… . We note that defendant has not submitted any evidentiary proof to counter plaintiff’s allegations.

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