Retaliation Claims Sufficiently Alleged Under the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws

In Smith v. Global Contact Holding Co., No. 156087/2019, 2020 WL 3485542 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County June 26, 2020), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged retaliation claims under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

The court explained the legal standard as follows:

To make out a prima facie claim of retaliation under the State HRL, a plaintiff must show that (1) he/she has engaged in a protected activity, (2) his/her employer was aware of such activity, (3) he/she suffered an adverse employment action based upon the activity, and (4) a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the adverse action. Under the City HRL, the test is similar, though rather than an adverse action, the plaintiff must show only that the defendant took an action that disadvantaged him or her.

As to the New York State Human Rights Law, the court explained:

Here, plaintiff alleges that he engaged in protected activity by making repeated complaints about the aforementioned conduct. He alleges that defendants were aware of the protected activity because he made complaints to the Director of Travel Planning for GC, the Director of HR, and to his supervisor. He alleges that defendants retaliated against him for making the complaints by repeatedly addressing him as a woman, refusing to grant him a medical leave sufficient for his recovery from medically necessary surgery, subjecting him to inaccurate disciplinary warnings, threatening to fire him if he took medical leave, and terminating his employment twice. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, these allegations state a claim for retaliation under the State HRL.

Having found that plaintiff stated a claim under the New York State Human Rights Law, the court held that plaintiff “a fortiori” stated a claim under the comparatively broader New York City Human Rights Law.

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