Sexual Harassment Claim Dismissed; Touching Was Not “Because Of” Sex

In Collymore v. City of New York et al, 16-cv-8270, 2018 WL 3014093 (S.D.N.Y. June 14, 2018), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim.

“Title VII recognizes two forms of sexual harassment: direct discrimination (or ‘quid pro quo’) and ‘hostile workplace environment.’ … In addition to pleading abusive or offensive conduct, it is axiomatic that a plaintiff must demonstrate that the conduct occurred because of her protected characteristic.” 2018 WL 3014093, at *3.

Applying the law, the court explained:

Plaintiff asserts a claim of sexual harassment in her First Claim for Relief, and alleges that she made complaints of sexual harassment, but she does not allege any facts to support an inference of “quid pro quo” direct harassment, nor does she allege any facts to suggest she experienced unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature or on the basis of her sex. Although Plaintiff alleges she experienced “unwelcome touching” by Maluf, including touching and rubbing her arms, patting her leg, resting her arm on her back, and grabbing her hands and legs …, she does not plead facts sufficient to support an inference that this touching occurred “because of her” sex. Indeed, Plaintiff alleges that she was informed by colleagues that Maluf “regularly touched others the same way.” … Plaintiff does not allege that Maluf only touched female coworkers, or specifically targeted female coworkers to the exclusion of men. … For these reasons, Plaintiff’s allegation that she experienced sexual harassment and hostile work environment on the basis of gender fails to state a claim for relief[.] … The Defendants’ motion to dismiss the First Claim for Relief is granted to the extent that claim is premised on sexually-motivated conduct.

Id. at *4.