ADA Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Yelling Insufficient

In Ivankovskaya v. Metro. Transportation Auth. Bus Co., No. 15-cv-5727, 2017 WL 3328166 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 3, 2017), the court dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Plaintiff worked as a bus operator for the MTA Bus Company. After being diagnosed with a disc herniation, she requested a “reasonable accommodation” in the form of an adjustable seat. She claims that defendant denied her accommodation request, subjected her to a hostile work environment, and retaliated against her for making the request.

The court outlined the legal standard:

The [hostile work environment] standard … is a demanding one, and a plaintiff must establish that the alleged harassment was offensive, pervasive, and continuous enough to create an abusive working environment. … Evaluating whether a hostile work environment exists under the ADA requires an assessment of the totality of circumstances and includes consideration of the “frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it [was] physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interefere[d] with [the plaintiff’s] work performance.

Plaintiff alleged, essentially, that she was yelled at by her supervisor and the General Superintendent of the MTA Bus Company after she said that she was assigned to a bus that did not have adjustable seats.

Applying the law, the court explained:

While yelling in the workplace may not be particularly pleasant or even appropriate, these isolated and relatively insignificant incidents do not establish a prima facie case of a hostile work environment. “The Second Circuit has repeatedly held that isolated, minor acts or occasional episodes do not warrant relief.” Lewis v. Erie County Medical Center Corp., 907 F.Supp.2d 336, 348 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 1, 2012) (also citing Kaytor v. Elec. Boat Corp., 609 F.3d 537, 547 (2d Cir. 2010) for the proposition that “ ‘[i]solated incidents … will not suffice to establish a hostile work environment unless they are extraordinarily severe’ ”) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted); Giambattista, F.Supp.3d at 294-95 (dismissing hostile work environment claim where plaintiff’s coworkers “made offensive quips about her perceived disability, including calling her ‘crazy’ and implying that she should be taken away by psychiatrists”). Moreover, none of the comments to which the plaintiff objects seem to have anything to do with the plaintiff’s alleged disability, and there is no suggestion that the comments, even if delivered at high volume, interfered with the plaintiff’s ability to perform her job, or that the allegedly hostile behavior was pervasive or frequent.

The court therefore dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim with prejudice.

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