Gender Discrimination Claim, Under the NYC Human Rights Law, Sufficiently Alleged Against Cantor Fitzgerald

In Maiurano v. Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, 2021 WL 76410 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 8, 2021), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged gender discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law (though it dismissed plaintiff’s claim under the more stringent Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law.

The court outlined the black-letter law pertinent to plaintiff’s City Law claim:

In reviewing gender discrimination claims under the NYCHRL, federal courts are guided by several considerations: (i) the totality of the circumstances must be considered because the overall context in which the challenged conduct occurs cannot be ignored; (ii) the federal severe or pervasive standard of liability does not apply to NYCHRL claims, and the severity or pervasiveness of conduct is relevant only to the scope of damages; (iii) the NYCHRL is not a general civility code, and a defendant is not liable if the defendant proves the conduct was nothing more than “petty slights or trivial inconveniences”; and (iv) while courts may still dismiss “truly insubstantial cases,” even a single comment may be actionable in the proper context. Mihalik, 715 F.3d at 113. “[A] focus on unequal treatment based on gender — regardless of whether the conduct is ‘tangible’ (like hiring or firing) or not — is … the approach that is most faithful to the uniquely broad and remedial purposes of the local statute.” Williams v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth., 872 N.Y.S.2d 27, 40 (1st Dep’t 2009).

Applying the law, the court concluded:

Assessing Plaintiff’s allegations through this more protective lens, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has adequately pleaded a claim for gender discrimination. See Williams, 872 N.Y.S.2d at 38 (“[T]he analysis of the [NYCHRL] must be guided by the need to make sure that discrimination plays no role” in the workplace). A reasonable jury could conclude that, although not severe or pervasive harassment, Mass’s alleged discussions with Plaintiff regarding his sexual relations with his fiancée and multiple sexual advances towards Plaintiff rose above the level of “petty slights or trivial inconveniences” given his supervisory role. See Mihalik, 715 F.3d at 113 (“Mihalik … had to suffer Peacock’s unwanted sexual attention, including two sexual propositions. If a jury were to credit Mihalik’s testimony, it could reasonably find that she was treated ‘less well’ than her male colleagues because of her gender, and that the conduct complained of was neither petty nor trivial.”).

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