Retaliation Claim, Based on Opposition to Gender Discrimination, Survives Summary Judgment

In Jia v. China Renaissance Securities (US) Inc., No. 158516/2018, 2021 WL 4553665 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Oct. 05, 2021), the court held that plaintiff’s unlawful retaliation claim(s) survived summary judgment.

From the decision:

Plaintiff claims that she establishes a prima facie case for retaliation under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL (Executive Law § 296 [7] and Administrative Code § 8-107 [7]) by demonstrating that she engaged in protected activity; her employer was aware of said activity; as a result of the activity she suffered an adverse employment action; and that there is a causal connection between the activity and the adverse action (see Forrest, 3 NY3d at 313; Fletcher v The Dakota, Inc., 99 AD3d 43, 51-52 [1st Dept 2012]). “Protected activity” refers to complaining about or opposing unlawful discrimination (Aspilaire v Wyeth Pharms., Inc., 612 F Supp 2d 289, 308 [SD NY 2009]; Brook v Overseas Media, Inc., 69 AD3d 444, 445 [1st Dept 2010]). Under the NYCHRL, the retaliatory adverse action need only amount to conduct “reasonably likely to deter a person from” opposing discrimination (Administrative Code § 8-107 [7]; Williams, 61 AD3d at 112).

After Jia returned from the Toronto trip in May 2018, she testified that she told Ganz, “ ‘I feel like you’re targeting me. Why do you read my messages but you don’t read Kevin’s and you don’t read Chris’s? You don’t see what they’re doing, but somehow I’m under a microscope from you for everything that I’m doing the same as they are doing? And there is red flags all over the office and you’re targeting me versus the rest of the salespeople’ who are all men” (NYSCEF 30 ¶ 44). That is when Ganz became visibly angry and threated Jia with a U5 (id. ¶ 45). On June 18, plaintiff was fired.

The court held that this was “sufficient to raise an issue of fact regarding whether Jia’s termination was causally connected to what might be seen by a factfinder as unlawful retaliation under the NYCHRL.”

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