Hostile Work Environment Claims Dismissed; 6 Incidents Over a 15 Year Period Insufficient

In Chauhan v. MM Hotel Management LLC et al, 18-cv-5963, 2019 WL 6118006 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 18, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s clams of race, national origin, and religion-based hostile work environment claims.

First, the court summarized the legal standard:

To establish a hostile work environment claim under Title VII, “a plaintiff must 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.” Littlejohn v. City of New York, 795 F.3d 297, 320-21 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The hostility of a work environment should be assessed based on the “totality of the circumstances.” Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 113 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993). “Factors that a court might consider in assessing the totality of the circumstances include: (1) the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; (2) its severity; (3) whether it is threatening and humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.” Id. “The Second Circuit ‘treats the first two of these factors—the frequency and the severity of the misconduct—as the principal focus of the analysis.’

Applying the law to the facts, the court concluded:

After removing from the analysis those comments for which Plaintiff has not specified a date or which do not implicate any of his protected characteristics, what remains are the five remarks that Plaintiff provides as “examples” without any time frame and Defendants’ request that Plaintiff trim his hair. Taken together, these six incidents over a fifteen-year period are not sufficiently frequent or severe enough to constitute a hostile work environment as a matter of law. See Fleming, 371 F. App’x at 118 (“racially harassing comment” followed by “numerous incidents of unfair treatment” did not constitute hostile work environment); Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1997) (“For racist comments, slurs, and jokes to constitute a hostile work environment, there must be more than a few isolated incidents of racial enmity, meaning that instead of sporadic racial slurs, there must be a steady barrage of opprobrious racial comments.”) (internal quotations omitted). Given that none of the five examples of discriminatory comments were even specifically about Plaintiff, they cannot be said to be threatening or humiliating. With respect to the hair trimming situation, which will be discussed further below, Plaintiff fails to allege that Defendants’ took any sort of action after he furnished the note from his priest, and in any event, is an isolated incident that does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment. Finally, Plaintiff has not alleged that the comments unreasonably interfered with his work performance.

Based on this, the court dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims.

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