Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Claim Sufficiently Alleged; Allegations Included Sexist Jokes

In Erno v. New York State Office of Information Technology Services, 2020 WL 2736563 (N.D.N.Y. May 26, 2020), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.

From the decision:

Considered in totality, the Court finds that the facts alleged by Plaintiff are sufficient to state a hostile work environment claim based on her gender. The Second Circuit has stated that “the depiction of women [in] offensive jokes [that are] uniformly sexually demeaning [toward women]” are “particularly insulting … because [they] cast women in a demeaning role: as objects of sex-based ridicule and subjects for sexual exploitation.” Petrosino v. Bell Atlantic, 385 F.3d 210, 222 (2d Cir. 2004). Although some of Plaintiff’s allegations sound in retaliation, liberally construing the Complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor, there are sufficient facts to state a gender-driven hostile work environment claim based on Plaintiff’s allegations that she was subjected to repeated sexist jokes, that Lubin trained a camera on her workstation, and she was forced to work with Lubin even after complaining to HR. Indeed, her claim suggests a pattern of sexually harassing and intimidating conduct by Lubin and inaction and indifference by Defendant such that a reasonable employee in Plaintiff’s position would feel that the conditions of her employment had changed for the worse. These facts are also sufficient to impute Lubin’s conduct to Defendant. Ultimately, “[t]he question of whether a work environment is sufficiently hostile to violate Title VII is one of fact,” and therefore, the Court declines to decide it at this stage.

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