Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Single Remark Insufficiently “Severe”

In Allen v. City of New York et al, 18-cv-9663, 2020 WL 4287361 (SDNY July 27, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s complaint alleging a hostile work environment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Initially, the court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint, and provided plaintiff with an opportunity to amend her complaint. In this decision, the court addresses the sufficiency of plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.

That complaint adds the following allegation:

“[o]n or about October 23, 2019, one of the students … overheard Assistant Principal Vera Leykina, A Caucasian Female, … boisterously screaming in her office that she was sick and tired of Plaintiff talking about ‘BLACK HISTORY’ and yelled out how she needed a counselor to replace Plaintiff”. [Emphasis added.]

Applying the law, the court explained:

The single October 23, 2019 hearsay statement is also insufficient to support the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim.

*4 To state a claim for a hostile work environment, a plaintiff must show that the conduct “(1) is objectively severe or pervasive-that is, creates an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive; (2) creates an environment that the plaintiff subjectively perceives as hostile or abusive; and (3) creates such an environment because of the plaintiff’s [protected status].” Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 113 (2d Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (quotation marks omitted). Without more, a single isolate remark does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment, unless it is unusually severe. See Allen I, 2019 WL 5450874, at *5.

The October 23, 2019 statement is the only newly alleged remark in the SAC. The plaintiff has failed to point to more than a single remark, which the plaintiff herself did not directly hear, and which is insufficient to avoid dismissal on a hostile work environment claim. See Batiste, 2017 WL 2912525, at *10 (finding no hostile work environment where the remark was not heard by the plaintiff). Nor does this alleged remark taken in conjunction with the plaintiff’s September 26, 2017 conversation, which was alleged in the FAC in support of the hostile work environment claim dismissed in Allen I, rise to the level of “objectively severe or pervasive” so as to “constitute an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive.”

Having found that plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint did “not cure any of the problems with the plaintiff’s pleadings identified by the Court when it dismissed the [First Amended Complaint],” the court dismissed the Second Amended Complaint with prejudice.

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