Pregnancy-Based Hostile Work Environment, Constructive Discharge Claims Dismissed Against CUNY

In Colas v. City of University of New York, 17-cv-4825, 2019 WL 2028701 (E.D.N.Y. May 7, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s pregnancy-based hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims.

As to plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

Here, Defendants contend that Plaintiff’s allegations “amount to dissatisfaction with her supervisors, … personality conflicts with Ms. Clapp, and general workplace grievances” and, therefore, that Plaintiff fails to allege a hostile work environment. (Mot. at 15.) Plaintiff alleges that upon learning of her pregnancy, her employer’s “attitude completely changed” and she became the subject of “increased, unwarranted and uninvited insulting comments, mocking behavior, and unprecedented and unwarranted informal and formal meetings regarding Plaintiff’s work performance.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 39). Plaintiff further alleges that she would frequently “hear Ms. Clapp negatively discussing Plaintiff’s pregnancy and her work performance to other co-workers.” (Id. ¶ 45). As a result of Plaintiff’s work environment, she allegedly expressed her work stress to her medical provider and her body would “shiver[ ] and jitter[ ] throughout the day.” (Id. ¶ 50). Plaintiff also alleges that she suffered from “severe nose bleed[s]” and “no longer [had] an appetite.” (Id. ¶¶ 53; 50).

*6 While this court finds that Plaintiff’s allegations, taken as true, amount to far more than “general workplace grievances,” (Mot. at 15) they do not rise to the high burden of alleging a hostile work environment. See Peralta v. Roros 940, Inc., 72 F. Supp. 3d 385, 395 (E.D.N.Y. 2014) (“In claiming a hostile work environment, plaintiff reasserts the facts underlying her discriminatory termination claim—in short, episodes of name-calling (heard secondhand), undue reprimands, perceived animosity, and unwelcome work assignments. This alleged pattern of behavior, while perhaps indicative of discriminatory animus, does not exhibit the severity or pervasiveness of an actionable hostile work environment.”). Therefore, Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim is granted.

Employing this analysis, the court went on to dismiss plaintiff’s constructive discharge claim, noting that “[a]s the bar for constructive discharge claims is higher than that for hostile work environment, pleadings that fail to pass muster under the less rigorous standard must also be found inadequate under the more demanding.”

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