City Law Sexual Harassment Claim Survives Dismissal [Jones v. City of NY]

In Jones v. The City of New York, 150316/12, 2018 WL 1256993 (N.Y.Sup.), 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 30398(U), the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claim for sexual harassment under the New York State Human Rights Law. It reached the opposite conclusion, however, with respect to plaintiff’s claim under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

In this case, plaintiff testified that Wickham sexually harassed him, for about three months, during the time that she was his supervisor, by repeatedly asking him out after he repeatedly said no, and by making explicit sexual comments in private meetings and in front of co-workers, which caused him to file a complaint and request a schedule change. Although plaintiff testified that Wickham was not his supervisor in May 2009, documents indicate that she was; and it is not disputed that Wickham was his supervisor when he filed a complaint in June 2009. Defendant does not argue that Wickham was not plaintiff’s supervisor at the time of the alleged harassment, but to the **15 extent that it is contested, there is at least a question of fact as to when Wickham was his supervisor.

As to plaintiff’s NYSHRL claim, the court held that “[a]s plaintiff makes no real argument, and offers no legal authority to support finding that the alleged conduct met the severe and pervasive standard under the NYSHRL, his sexual harassment claim brought under the NYSHRL is dismissed.”[1]While the court here cites the standard as “severe and pervasive,” the standard, as it noted in its summary of the law earlier in the decision, is “severe or pervasive.”

However, it held that plaintiff’s claim under the broader NYC Human Rights Law may proceed. It explained:

However, contrary to defendant’s contention, plaintiff’s sworn testimony that Wickham’s conduct included repeated sexually explicit comments and invitations, such as “one day you’re gonna fuck me,” “you’re gonna go out with me,” and “why don’t you want me,” which plaintiff testified occurred on a regular basis over three months, is sufficient to raise a question of fact as to whether such conduct was more than what a reasonable person would **16 consider petty slights and trivial inconveniences.

 

1 While the court here cites the standard as “severe and pervasive,” the standard, as it noted in its summary of the law earlier in the decision, is “severe or pervasive.”
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