Title VII Retaliation Claim Survives Dismissal; Adverse Action Affected Plaintiff’s Health

In Collymore v. City of New York et al, 18-2099 (2d Cir. April 11, 2019) (Summary Order), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, inter alia, vacated the dismissal of plaintiff’s retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that she was the victim of sex and race discrimination, and subjected to retaliation for reporting the discrimination. While the court held that the dismissal of her sexual harassment and race discrimination claims was proper,[1]I wrote about the court’s discussion of plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim here. it determined that she plausibly asserted a claim for retaliation under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1983.

From the Order:

The majority of Collymore’s allegations that Maluf and Austin were harsh with her and yelled at her falls into the category of nonactionable “petty slights, minor annoyances, and simple lack of good manners.” Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry., 548 U.S. at 68. However, Collymore’s allegation that after she complained about Maluf’s sexual harassment, Maluf and Austin forced her to work through her lunch hour despite knowing that Collymore needed to maintain a specific lunch hour to prevent migraines plausibly states a claim for retaliation under Title VII and Section 1983. By forcing Collymore to work through her lunch hour and thereby causing Collymore to “develop[ ] migraines on a regular basis,” App’x at 21-22, ¶ 77, Maluf and Austin forced Collymore to choose between reporting discrimination and maintaining her health. It is therefore plausible that a reasonable worker in Collymore’s position would decline to report discrimination in order to conserve their health. Because Collymore has alleged facts indicating that Defendants-Appellees’ retaliation “occurred against a backdrop of continuing antagonism and frustration of [her] professional ambitions,” Duplan, 888 F.3d at 626, Collymore has also sufficiently alleged a causal connection between her protected activity and the retaliatory acts. Collymore’s allegations of retaliation based on Maluf and Austin forcing her to work through her lunch hour for reporting discrimination plausibly state a claim of retaliation under Title VII and Section 1983.

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1. I wrote about the court’s discussion of plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim here.