Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Allegations, Including Mocking of Accent, Held Insufficient

In Kiraka v. M&T Bank, 2020 WL 1285632 (N.D.N.Y. March 18, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After summarizing the black-letter law regarding such claims, the court explained:

[Plaintiff] fails to state a plausible claim under Title VII. … [Plaintiff] claims that a co-worker “told [her that] she does not like the way [she] talk[s].” However, even if accepted as true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, this comment is insufficient to state a plausible hostile work environment claim. See Bowman, 2015 WL 541276, at *3 (finding that a single racial slur by the plaintiff’s supervisor, followed by the supervisor’s boss telling the plaintiff to “stay away from him,” failed to state a plausible hostile work environment claim); Salmon v. Pliant, 965 F. Supp. 2d 302, 306 (W.D.N.Y. 2013) (finding that the use of a racial slur by a co-worker, combined with multiple other incidents of offensive conduct over the course of seven years, was insufficient to state a plausible hostile work environment claim).

The court also held that additional allegations by plaintiff were insufficient to state a claim. These included: that defendant warned her about being late to work; that she was not permitted to leave work even though she finished work for the day; that she was not given time off to find day care for her child while another employee employed after her was given vacation time; that another employee mocked her accent; and that she heard another coworker discussing her in a “negative light.”

Although finding that defendant’s behavior “can reasonably be considered to adversely affect her work environment,” the court held that plaintiff’s allegations were “conclusory” and failed to “demonstrate that she was subjected to the hostility because of her membership in a protected class.”