Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Alleged Acts, While “Inappropriate”, Were Too Isolated to Be Actionable

In Garcia v. NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation, 19 Civ. 997, 2019 WL 6878729 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the decision:

[Plaintiff’s complaint] describes an incident where Garcia was publicly questioned about his disability by his supervisor, four incidents where his supervisor yelled at or was aggressive towards him, and an incident where Garcia believes his supervisor referred to him as a “faggot” in another language. But these isolated acts, however inappropriate, do not rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment under Title VII, even considering “all the circumstances.” Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993); see Torres v. Pisano, 116 F.3d 625, 631 (2d Cir. 1997) (“Conduct that is merely offensive and not severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively hostile or abusive work environment … is beyond Title VII’s purview.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). That Garcia’s supervisor yelled at him on four occasions over three months is not “sufficiently continuous and concerted … to be deemed pervasive,” or to make “the workplace … so severely permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that the terms and conditions of [Garcia’s] employment were thereby altered.” Alfano, 294 F.3d at 373, 374. The incidents here are merely “episodic.” Littlejohn, 795 F.3d at 321. They fall well short of the standards to plead such a claim.9 Critically, too, with the exception of the incident in which Garcia alleges that he was referred to as a “faggot,” the facts alleged do not link the workplace hostility he encountered to his race or sexual orientation. Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 86–87 (2d Cir. 2015) (to survive motion to dismiss, plaintiff must “plausibly allege facts that provide ‘at least minimal support for the proposition that the employer was motivated by discriminatory intent[.]

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