Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed Against NYC Department of Finance

In Anderson v. New York City Department of Finance, 19-CV-7971, 2020 WL 1922624 (S.D.N.Y. April 21, 2020), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s race-based discrimination and hostile work environment claims.

As to his hostile work environment claim, the court explained, with respect to the nature and consistency of the alleged conduct:

Plaintiff fails to plausibly plead a hostile work environment claim. Although Plaintiff does allege a range of conduct over thirteen years – from being suspended and losing pay, denied promotions, repeatedly transferred, and excluded from a training, to receiving negative comments from supervisors and co-workers, see Compl. ¶¶ 19, 21, 32-39 – these incidents are insufficiently “continuous and concerted in order to be deemed pervasive.” Alfano v. Costello, 294 F.3d 365, 374 (2d Cir. 2002) (citation omitted). Rather, as previously discussed, Plaintiff’s allegations are more akin to isolated incidents that occurred throughout his nearly two-decade tenure working for Defendant. See id. (explaining that “incidents must be more than ‘episodic’ ” to support a work environment claim). Each alleged incident took place at least two years apart, while Plaintiff worked in various departments and under different supervisors. Nor is the alleged conduct sufficiently severe so as to overcome its episodic nature. For instance, “[s]imple teasing” or “offhand comments” do not support a hostile work environment claim. Petrosino v. Bell Atl., 385 F.3d 210, 223 (2d Cir. 2004).

The court noted that even assuming the alleged conduct was “sufficiently severe”, plaintiff did not plausibly demonstrate that he suffered those actions “as a result of his race,” where his complaint was “devoid of any allegations tying the alleged conduct to racial animus.”