Retaliation Claim Dismissed; Insufficient Help in Putting Up Christmas Decorations Was Not An “Adverse Employment Action”

In a recent case, Belvin and Mayers v. Electchester Management, LLC, 2020 WL 7262877 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 10, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed one plaintiff’s retaliation claim, finding that they did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation.

From the decision:

Regarding the first claim, Mr. Mayers has failed to adduce evidence of retaliation based on his grievances sufficient to withstand summary judgment. Mr. Mayers asserts that in response to a grievance he filed in 2013 alleging discrimination and harassment, he was not provided sufficient help in putting up Christmas decorations. (Mayers Tr. at 176:20-178:16.) He also asserts that sometime in 2014 he was suspended for using inappropriate language with Mr. Belvin at a staff meeting. (Id. at 179:3-181:21.) He contested this suspension, leading him to file another grievance; EML then reinstated the lost day of pay. (Id.) Even if Mr. Mayers were able to establish that filing these grievances constituted protected activity in satisfaction of the first prong of the prima facie case of retaliation, he has failed to show he suffered an adverse employment action as a result of either grievance. After his first grievance, Mr. Mayers alleges his work became more difficult, but the only example he points to is the issue with the Christmas decorations—a problem he shared with all the porters in his housing unit, even though he was the only one to file a grievance. (Id. at 176:22-178:8.) He also admits the problem was rectified after he complained about the lack of assistance. His second grievance was filed in response to being suspended for using inappropriate language at work, and he admits he did not experience any retaliation as a result of this grievance before he went out on sick leave. (Id. at 183:4-8.) Therefore, Mr. Mayers has failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation based on the grievances.

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