Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed, In Light of Evidence That Employer Followed its Anti-Discrimination Policy

In┬áMula v. AbbVie, Inc., 15-CV-6563-FPG, 2018 WL 501277 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2018), the court granted summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff’s hostile work environment and retaliation claims.

In sum, plaintiff alleged that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor (McCutchan) and then subjected to retaliation for complaining about it. Among other things, plaintiff claimed that McCutchan “made inappropriate comments to Plaintiff about her physical attributes and her family”, “told Plaintiff that she should flirt with health care providers during her sales calls”, and told plaintiff that she had a nice pool (which he learned she had by using Google Earth to view satellite pictures of her home).

Specifically, the court dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim under the New York State Human Rights Law, on the ground that the conduct of the alleged harasser may not be imputed to the defendant.

This was, held the court, due to the employer’s compliance with its anti-discrimination policy:

Here, the Court need not determine whether McCutchan’s harassment was severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of Plaintiff’s employment or create an abusive working environment because she has not shown that McCutchan’s conduct can be imputed to Defendant. Defendant maintained a policy prohibiting workplace discrimination, and the record clearly shows that ER thoroughly investigated Plaintiff’s allegations against McCutchan, Phelps, and Haling and took action against McCutchan pursuant to that policy. The investigation may not have been as swift as Plaintiff had hoped, but it was necessarily thorough in light of the multiple subjects and witnesses involved and the ongoing nature of the events being investigated. ER ultimately credited Plaintiff’s allegations against McCutchan and ensured that he would never ride with Plaintiff or work for AbbVie again, so it can hardly be said that Defendant provided Plaintiff no reasonable avenue for complaint or ignored her harassment claims. Consequently, her NYSHRL hostile work environment claim fails.

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