Court Explains That Even “Crude and Contemptible” Conduct May Not Rise to the Level of a Hostile Work Environment

A recent Southern District of New York decision, Daniel v. T&M Protection Resources LLC (SDNY 13-cv-4384, Feb. 19, 2015), illustrates that even conduct that rises to the level of what may be considered “crude” and “contemptible” may not be (and, in this case, was not) enough to survive summary judgment on a Title VII hostile work environment claim.

Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that his supervisor (Melidones) used a racial slur on one occasion, directed an anti-gay slur at him on another occasion, and brushed against plaintiff’s buttocks and slapped him on the shoulder.

After reviewing relevant Second Circuit case law, Judge Engelmayer wrote:

Daniel’s testimony indicates that he was mistreated—based in part on his race, perceived national origin, and perceived sexual orientation. The Court should not be taken as countenancing such “crude and contemptible” conduct. However, measured against the standards set by the case law, Daniel’s mistreatment does not rise to the level of “severe or pervasive” harassment so as to create a “hostile or abusive” work environment. On his Title VII claim of such an environment, therefore, T & M’s motion for summary judgment must be granted.

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