“College Humor” Gender Discrimination Claim Dismissed

In Johnson v IAC/Interactivecorp., No. 155837/2014, 2018 WL 3536599, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 31720(U) (Sup Ct, New York County July 16, 2018), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s claim for gender discrimination.

This case illustrates, among other things, that when assessing employment discrimination claims, context counts.

From the decision:

It is significant here that plaintiff was employed to produce video content for an internet comedy website that operated the “CollegeHumor Network,” a self-described “leading online entertainment company targeting a core audience of people ages 18-49 . . . deliver[ing] daily comedic content, including videos, pictures, articles and jokes,” with “admittedly ‘raunchy’ ” humor (NYSCEF 126), and it is undisputed that defendants’ mission was furthered by the production of content exemplified by that displayed at staff meetings. That plaintiff was offended by such content is of no moment, as defendants are precluded by no law or rule from producing such content. Thus, the display of a photograph of a nude woman in a meeting and the display or creation of three crude, lewd, or debasing videos shown during other meetings, attended by both male and female employees, and/or produced by defendants do not warrant an inference that defendants were motivated by discrimination against plaintiff or other females on account of their gender. In other words, plaintiff fails to meet her burden that defendants’ display or creation of the photograph or videos was motivated, at least in part, by their discriminatory attitude toward females, rather than defendants’ work purposes. …

Moreover …, plaintiff here does not prove that any of the alleged incidents involving the photograph and videos were directed by or involved any of her supervisors or individuals responsible for her assignments or dismissal, thereby eliminating any possible and necessary link between defendants’ alleged gender bias and their treatment and termination of her.

The court therefore held that defendants met their ultimate burden of showing that no jury could find them liable for gender discrimination.

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