Hostile Work Environment Claims Insufficiently Alleged; Not Enough That Plaintiff “Felt Disrespected”

In John Doe v. The City of New York et al, 511209/2020, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 50916(U), 2021 WL 4468869 (Sup Ct, Sept. 29, 2021), the court held that plaintiff did not sufficiently allege a hostile work environment under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

Among plaintiff’s allegations were that “he was asked to complete tasks that were not in compliance with safety procedures nor within his job description” and that his supervisor “forcefully and angrily shoved plaintiff’s hardhat into his chest, pushing him backwards.” Plaintiff told his supervisor that “he felt disrespected and that the work environment was hostile.”

In assessing plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims, the court explained:

A claim of a hostile work environment animated by discrimination in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law necessitates that “the 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.” Under the New York City Human Rights Law, a plaintiff claiming a hostile work environment need only demonstrate that he was treated “less well than other employees” due to the specific characteristic.

Plaintiff has not alleged that he suffered an adverse employment action that affected his position, salary, or employment duties nor that an adverse action occurred due to discrimination as required by the New York State Human Rights Law. Indeed, plaintiff never mentioned his work hours or position being impacted due to any encounters he had with [his supervisor].

Similarly, plaintiff’s claim of a hostile work environment misses the mark. Plaintiff does not allege any pervasive discrimination at the workplace that altered his employment nor created an abusive environment. Plaintiff’s bald assertions of being treated “less well” than other employees as required by the New York City Human Rights Law does not pass muster.

[Citations omitted.]

The court did find, however, that plaintiff’s “complaint does intimate that [plaintiff’s supervisor]’s conduct was motivated by discrimination, in violation of” the New York City Human Rights Law.

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