Hostile Work Environment Claim Not Stated; Reference to Actress Held Insufficient

In Adams v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 16-cv-1986, 2018 WL 1532434 (E.D.N.Y. March 29, 2018), the court (inter alia) dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The court summarized the law:[1]The court noted that the Second Circuit “has not yet decided whether a hostile work environment claim may be made under the ADA,” but that it need not resolve this question because plaintiff would not state a claim even if such a claim were available.

The test for ‘hostile work environment’ has both an objective and a subjective component: ‘A work environment will be considered hostile if a reasonable person would have found it to be so and if the plaintiff subjectively so perceived it.’ ” Mormol v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 364 F.3d 54, 58 (2d Cir. 2004) (quoting Brennan v. Metro. Opera Ass’n, 192 F.3d 310, 318 (2d Cir. 1999)). “Whether a reasonable person would find a given work environment to be hostile depends on the totality of the circumstances; ‘considerations include: (1) the frequency of the conduct, (2) the severity of the conduct, (3) whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance, and (4) whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee’s work performance.’ ”

Applying the law, the court explained why plaintiff did not state a hostile work environment claim:

The amended complaint, even construed liberally, does not state sufficient factual matter that, if accepted as true, would establish that plaintiff subjectively perceived her workplace to be hostile, or that a reasonable person would find it hostile. Instead, the amended complaint is largely devoid of any allegations as to plaintiff’s workplace environment and interactions with others. As Judge Bloom noted, the only allegation in the complaint that could conceivably bear on the hostility of plaintiff’s workplace is that a Delta employee in some manner compared plaintiff to the actress Amy Adams. (R&R at 15; Compl. p. 14 ¶ 21.) Even if the court could discern why plaintiff perceived the comment as hostile, the comment would at most constitute a single instance what plaintiff perceived to be a “mere offensive utterance,” which does not suffice to state acclaim for a hostile work environment.

1 The court noted that the Second Circuit “has not yet decided whether a hostile work environment claim may be made under the ADA,” but that it need not resolve this question because plaintiff would not state a claim even if such a claim were available.
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