Male Teaching Assistant Sufficiently Alleges Sexual Harassment By Female Co-Worker

In Eustache v. Bd. of Educ. of the City School Dist. of the City of New York, No. 153619/2019, 2021 WL 4219732 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Sep. 16, 2021), the court held, inter alia, that plaintiff (a male paraprofessional a/k/a teaching assistant) sufficiently alleged sexual harassment by a co-worker under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

Here, the amended complaint alleges that Lafia sexually harassed plaintiff for a period of several months while plaintiff was assigned as a paraprofessional in Lafia’s classroom by allegedly sending plaintiff sexually explicit text messages, including that the two could have sex and that another employee would “blow” him, attempting to sit on plaintiff’s lap in view of a classroom of students, inquiring about the size of plaintiff’s penis, “caress[ing]” plaintiff’s shoulder in the school hallway, that she would “break” plaintiff, and rubbing plaintiff’s shoulders. Plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to permit the inference that he was treated less well than his female colleagues and that Lafia’s advances were neither petty nor trivial.

As to imputing this conduct to defendant under N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107[13][b], the court held that plaintiff did not sufficiently allege that Lafia was plaintiff’s “supervisor” (since the complaint did not contain any allegations suggesting that Lafia had authority to control the terms and conditions of plaintiff’s employment).

However, plaintiff “did allege facts demonstrating that the City knew of Lafia’s conduct and failed to take corrective action,” noting that “[w]hile plaintiff was reassigned from Lafia’s classroom after he complained to Principal Mota, he was returned to Lafia’s classroom upon his return to work in September 2019 and while plaintiff’s OEO claim remained unresolved” such that “while the City initially addressed plaintiff’s complaint, their corrective measure was undone by reassigning plaintiff to Lafia’s classroom.”

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