Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal; Anti-Italian Slurs Were “Pervasive”

In  Casarella v. New York State Department of Transportation, 2018 WL 4372674 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 13, 2018), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff plausibly alleged a hostile work environment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“To establish a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff must produce enough evidence to show that the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.” 2018 WL 4372674, at *6.

Applying the law, the court concluded:

Plaintiff was employed at NYSDOT for approximately six months and during that time, he endured insults and the use of a “racial slur” against his Italian heritage from multiple NYSDOT employees, including Defendants Cresno and Boranco. … Plaintiff alleges that his supervisors and co-workers “continuous[ly] and intentional[ly]” failed to intervene, which allowed his co-workers to “continue to abuse him and harass him without fear of consequences.” … Moreover, Plaintiff claims that the second time he was sent to work on the roadside without a back-up truck was “obviously planned by Defendants” because he “was the only one who was ordered to pick up trash off of the side of a busy road without a back-up truck protecting him from oncoming traffic.” … While the insults may not qualify as “severe,” they were pervasive. Conversely, the incident with the roadwork, while isolated, was severe and resulted in a permanent injury to Plaintiff’s foot. … Plaintiff’s Complaint establishes a facially plausible hostile work environment claim, and Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Title VII hostile work environment claim against NYSDOT and Plaintiff’s NYHRL claim against Defendants Cresno and Boranco is denied.

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