2d Circuit Hears Oral Argument as to Whether the Single Use of the “N-Word” by a Supervisor is Sufficient to Overcome Summary Judgment on Plaintiff’s Hostile Work Environment Claim

On April 18, 2017, the Second Circuit heard oral argument in the case of Daniel v. T&M Protection Resources LLC (Case No. 15-560). At issue is whether a single, offensive comment (here, the n-word) is sufficient to overcome summary judgment on plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim.

The EEOC argued (as Amicus Curiae in support of pro se plaintiff-appellant Daniel) in its Brief that “[plaintiff’s] supervisor’s statement ‘you fucking nigger’ is, by itself, sufficient to defeat summary judgment” on plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim.

The district court had granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Daniel v. T & M Protection Resources LLC, 87 F. Supp. 3d 621 (SDNY Feb. 19, 2015 (J. Engelmayer), holding that plaintiff did not raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether he was subjected to “severe or pervasive” harassment. Specifically, the court – citing Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir.1997) – determined that the single incident in which plaintiff’s supervisor used a racial slur while yelling at plaintiff “although reprehensible, cannot, by itself, sustain a hostile work environment claim.” Daniel v. T & M Prot. Res. LLC, 87 F. Supp. 3d 621, 636 (S.D.N.Y. 2015), appeal dismissed (Apr. 30, 2015), reconsideration denied, No. 13 CIV. 4384 PAE, 2015 WL 783349 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 24, 2015).

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