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Plaintiff, Mocked For Stuttering, States Hostile Work Environment Claim Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

by mjpospis on April 15, 2018

in Co-Worker Harassment, Disability Discrimination, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Hostile Work Environment, Pleading

In Salas v. New York City Department of Investigation, 2018 WL 1614339, 16-cv-8573 (S.D.N.Y. March 30, 2018), the court (inter alia) denied defendant’s motion to dismiss, and held that plaintiff – who suffered from a stutter – stated a claim for a hostile work environment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

From the decision:

Salas also asserts a disability-based claim for a hostile work environment under the ADA. The materials attached to Salas’s original Complaint include allegations that “Calvi makes fun of [Salas’s] stuttering … on a daily basis,” “intimidates [her] on a daily basis,” and “mimic[s]” her “on a daily basis.” … Salas also alleges at least one instance where Calvi purportedly mimicked her stutter in front of their coworkers, humiliating and embarrassing her. …

Defendants argue that these allegations fail to state a claim for a hostile work environment because they do not specify “the content of [Calvi’s] words, her tone, the duration of her alleged conduct, or type or form of intimidation.” … But the daily, humiliating mocking of a pronounced stutter in front of one’s colleagues could well prove to be more than “simple teasing,” “offhand comments,” and “isolated incidents.” … Unlike Salas’s allegation that some unidentified person “repeatedly mocked” her religion in some unidentified way, her allegations that Calvi mimicked her stutter in front of her coworkers in a humiliating way on a daily basis—a very specific and self-explanatory form of bullying—is sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Accepting Salas’s factual allegations as true and drawing reasonable inferences in her favor, a jury could “conclude that [Salas’s] work environment both objectively was, and subjectively was perceived by the plaintiff to be, sufficiently hostile to alter the conditions of employment for the worse.”

Based on this, the court concluded that plaintiff plausibly stated a claim for hostile work environment under the ADA.

Categories: Co-Worker Harassment, Disability Discrimination, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Hostile Work Environment, Pleading

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