Gender Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation Claims Held Properly Dismissed on “Res Judicata” Grounds

In Bradshaw v. City of New York, No. 1486 8, 2021-01234, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 07060, 2021 WL 5930827 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Dec. 16, 2021), the Appellate Division, First Department unanimously affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims on the ground of “res judicata”.

From the decision:

Plaintiff’s claims for gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law (Executive Law § 296) and New York City Human Rights Law (Administrative Code of the City of New York § 8–107) are precluded by the doctrine of res judicata because the claims could have been brought in her prior federal action, which alleged gender discrimination under 42 USC § 1983 (see Matter of Hunter, 4 NY3d 260, 269 [2005]; see also Abe v. New York Univ., 169 AD3d 445, 449 [1st Dept 2019], lv dismissed 34 NY3d 1089 [2020] ). The allegations in plaintiff’s state court complaint are, in fact, nearly identical to those contained in her federal court complaint, since her claims arise under the same operative facts.

Plaintiff acknowledges that her claim for disability discrimination is barred by the election of remedies doctrine, as she elected to first file a New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) complaint alleging disability discrimination. We find that her claims for gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation are also barred by that doctrine (see Benjamin v New York City Dept. of Health, 57 AD3d 403, 403–404 [1st Dept 2008], lv dismissed 14 NY3d 880 [2010] ). Although plaintiff’s state court complaint asserts additional claims of gender discrimination, it is still “based on the same alleged discriminatory conduct,” allegedly leading to her termination, as asserted in the DHR complaint (id. at 404; see Craig–Oriol v. Mount Sinai Hosp., 201 A.D.2d 449, 449–450 [2d Dept 1994], lv denied 85 N.Y.2d 804 [1995] ). Indeed, plaintiff expressly alleged in the DHR complaint that defendant engaged in retaliation against her and created a hostile work environment.

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