2nd Circuit Explains Decision to Affirm Dismissal of Police Officer’s Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, and Retaliation Claims

In Camarda v. City of New York et al, 15-3262-cv, 2016 WL 7234686 (2d Cir. Dec. 14, 2016) (Summary Order), the Second Circuit affirmed the summary judgment dismissal (Camarda v. City of NY, EDNY 11-cv-2629, Sept. 16, 2015 (J. Mauskoopf)) of plaintiff’s claims of sex discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

In this case, plaintiff “claims that she suffered sexual harassment and a hostile work environment while employed as a police officer in the New York City Police Department [] and that her supervisors retaliated against her when she filed a formal complaint about this treatment.”

As to plaintiff’s claims of sex discrimination, the court explained:

Sergeant Festa testified that defendant Sergeant Milone “was looking to hurt” Camarda and would assign her to desk detail to preclude her from making the arrests her job required. Festa testified that he was transferred for refusing to “participate in getting Mary Ann Camarda with unnecessary discipline[ ].” Officer King’s testimony raises questions about whether Milone was justified in disciplining Camarda for inappropriate court attire. Like the district court, we conclude that even if this testimony indicates that Camarda was treated unfairly, it does not raise the necessary inference of a sex-based motivation. …

Second, Camarda asserts that defendant Sergeant Mai’s comment, “[y]ou are a girl and you can’t type,” made in disciplining her for not retyping a summons form, raises an inference of discriminatory motive. The argument fails because Camarda does not dispute that her actions—contesting a superior’s retype order after preparing a flawed summons—warranted discipline. Nor did she adduce any evidence contradicting testimony that male officers were also assigned to an outdoor foot-post as discipline. In these circumstances, Mai’s stray remark about expected female typing skills, if it was, in fact, made, was insensitive, but it does not give rise to the inference of discriminatory motivation necessary to make out a prima facie case under § 1983, Title VII, or the NYSHRL, or under the more liberal standard governing the NYCHRL. …

Third, Camarda argues that discriminatory motive can be inferred from the fact that defendant Sergeant O’Leary “pointed at [her], said ‘[n]o low cut shirts’ and … was looking [at her].” The argument fails because O’Leary’s disciplinary action was based not only on Camarda’s dress—a disputed matter that we view in Camarda’s favor on this appeal—but on her undisputed failure to have her memo book with her, a violation of Police Department policy for which the record shows male officers were also routinely disciplined.

Fourth, Camarda herself testified that taskforce members told her that her superiors did not “want [her] around because [she] [is] a female.” [T]hese statements are inadmissible hearsay and, thus, cannot be considered as evidence of defendants’ discriminatory motivations. … Camarda neither explicitly acknowledges the district court’s conclusion as to this evidence, nor challenges it on appeal.

The court also held that plaintiff abandoned her hostile work environment and retaliation claims, noting that “after responding to each of defendants’ proposed undisputed facts, Camarda’s opposition brief argued only that summary judgment should be denied as to her discrimination claims” and that plaintiff’s “appellate brief neither mentions nor refutes the district court’s abandonment ruling, further signaling that the claims were abandoned.” (Emphasis in original.)

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