Sexual Harassment Claim Dismissed; Alleged Comments Were “Equally Offensive” to Men and Women

In Chauca v. AdvantageCare Physicians, P.C., 2019 WL 4247495 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 6, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.

The court summarized the basic elements of such a claim:

To show that she was subjected to sex discrimination by virtue of a hostile work environment, plaintiff must show that there was conduct (1) that is objectively severe or pervasive—that is, conduct that creates an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, (2) that the plaintiff subjectively perceives as hostile or abusive, and (3) that creates such an environment because of plaintiff’s sex.

Applying the law, the court explained:

The evidence of a hostile work environment under Title VII and the NYSHRL that plaintiff has adduced could not persuade a reasonable juror. As an initial matter, plaintiff has not adduced sufficient evidence that, to the extent there was a hostile work environment, it was the result of her sex. Garziniti’s comments to Peter DeCaesar were even more sexually charged and at least as potentially offensive as his comments to plaintiff. “Because the touchstone of the Title VII inquiry is discrimination, and [Garziniti’s] comments were equally offensive to both men and women, Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim must fail.”

The court also found that four comments and one gesture (in addition to other comments made to individuals besides plaintiff), while “inappropriate”, merely amounted to “isolated remarks or occasional episodes of harassment'” that did not rise to the level of an actionable hostile work environment.

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