Gender-Based Hostile Work Environment Survives Summary Judgment Under the NYCHRL Against NYC

In Golston-Green v. City of New York, et al., No. 2016-02462, 28117/09, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 02768, 2020 WL 2462411 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., May 13, 2020), the court, inter alia, held that summary judgment should not have been granted to defendants on plaintiff’s claim of gender-based hostile work environment under the NYC Human Rights Law.

After determining that dismissal was proper on plaintiff’s race-based hostile work environment claim (which was based on “only a single comment which is not facially racially derogatory”), the court turned to plaintiff’s gender-based claim.

The court explained:

We reach a different conclusion, however, upon conducting the requisite independent analysis of the cause of action alleging a hostile work environment under the City Human Rights Law based on gender. The alleged comment by Denesopolis, that he did not “like women on this job because they have babies,” plainly expresses a view of the role of women in the workplace. Considering the totality of the circumstances, which include the plaintiff’s testimony that Denesopolis expressed displeasure upon learning of her transfer to his unit as a pregnant woman, and then again at her second pregnancy, we cannot say that this is a “truly insubstantial case” as a matter of law. In addition, while it might be inferred that the incidents in which Denesopolis publicly reprimanded the plaintiff and referred to her as an “empty suit” and “Sergeant do nothing” were related to deficiencies in her performance as a sergeant, on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, we must view the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. A jury could agree with the plaintiff that the conduct was based upon her pregnancies and conclude that the plaintiff was subject to a workplace in which she was treated less well than others because of her gender. Accordingly, the cause of action alleging gender discrimination on a theory of a hostile work environment under the City Human Rights Law must be reinstated.

The court also held that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to her constructive discharge claim.