Hostile Work Environment (Sexual Harassment) Claim Against Department of Education Survives Summary Judgment

In Bray v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 2018 WL 1558436 (N.Y.Sup. Ct. NY Cty. March 30, 2018, Index No. 158989/2013) (J. Tisch), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff raised triable issues of fact (and hence denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment) as to her claims of gender discrimination (hostile work environment sexual harassment) and retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law.

As to her discrimination claim, the court explained the relevant legal standard:

Under the NYCHRL, there are not separate standards for discrimination and harassment claims.” Johnson v Strive E. Harlem Empl. Group, 990 F Supp 2d 435, 445 (SD NY 2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To establish a hostile work environment claim under the NYCHRL, “the primary issue for a trier of fact in harassment cases, as in other terms and conditions cases, is whether the plaintiff has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that she has been treated less well than other employees because of her gender.” Williams v New York City Hous. Auth., 61 AD3d 62, 78 (1st Dept 2009). Despite the broader application of the NYCHRL, conduct that consists of “petty slights or trivial inconveniences … do[es] not suffice to support a hostile work environment claim.”

Applying the law, Judge Tisch held that plaintiff “raised a triable issue of fact that [the alleged harasser] treated her less well than other employees due to her gender” and further noted that “the alleged conduct, including some form of sexual solicitation, could reasonably be interpreted as being more than ‘petty slights or trivial inconveniences.'”

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