Sexual Harassment Claim Dismissed Against SL Green Realty Corp.

In Bell v. SL Green Realty Corp. et al, 19 Civ. 8153, 2021 WL 516575 (SDNY Feb. 11, 2021), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.

From the decision:

To state a hostile work environment claim, the Complaint must plausibly allege that her “workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.” Littlejohn v. City of New York, 795 F.3d 297, 320-21 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993)); accord Agosto v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ., 982 F.3d 86, 101 (2d Cir. 2020). “This test has objective and subjective elements: the misconduct shown must be ‘severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively hostile or abusive work environment,’ and the victim must also subjectively perceive that environment to be abusive.” Agosto, 982 F.3d at 101-02 (quoting Alfano v. Costello, 294 F.3d 365, 374 (2d Cir. 2002)). Generally, incidents of harassment “must be more than episodic; they must be sufficiently continuous and concerted in order to be deemed pervasive.” Id. at 102 (quoting Alfano, 294 F.3d at 374). “Isolated acts, unless very serious, do not meet the threshold of severity or pervasiveness.” Alfano, 294 F.3d at 374. However, “a single act can meet the threshold if, by itself, it can and does work a transformation of the plaintiff’s workplace.” Id. Furthermore, the Complaint “must demonstrate that the conduct occurred because of” her sex and that a “specific basis exists for imputing the conduct that created the hostile environment to the employer.” Agosto, 982 F.3d at 102.

The claim is insufficiently pleaded because the allegations of harassment that could be construed as based on sex do not demonstrate that the “workplace [was] permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.” Littlejohn, 795 F.3d at 320-21. The Complaint alleges that one supervisor sexually harassed and flirted with employees, that this supervisor “took revenge” on Plaintiff since she did not entertain his jokes or associate with him, and that he once put his hand in Plaintiff’s pocket. Without additional details as to frequency and how the supervisor “sexually harassed” or “took revenge” on Plaintiff, these allegations are also too vague to suggest that the alleged conduct was consistent rather than sporadic, and “unreasonably interfered” with Plaintiff’s work performance. See id. Accordingly, the claim is dismissed.

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