Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed Against Equinox

In Daeisadeghi v. Equinox Great Neck, Inc., 16-CV-01698, 2019 WL 331637 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 25, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed on summary judgment plaintiff’s national origin-based hostile work environment claim.

This case teaches, among other things, that even “insulting” conduct does not necessarily result in the establishment of a hostile work environment claim.

From the decision:

The Plaintiff alleges that during the course of employment at Equinox, he was subjected to comments regarding his national origin. As detailed above, Daeisadeghi alleges that Bekteshi referred to the Plaintiff as a “crazy Persian” and purportedly mocked the Plaintiff’s accent. The Plaintiff also contends that Harrison referred to Daeisadeghi as a “crazy Persian” and “elongate[d]” his name on weekly conference calls. These comments allegedly occurred on a daily basis, in the case of Bekteshi, and a weekly basis in the case of Harrison.

The frequency and severity of the incidents do not rise to a level sufficient to create a hostile work environment. Harrison and Bekteshi’s comments, while perhaps insulting and offensive, are not reflective of discriminatory animus. The record clearly reflects that Harrison frequently elongated many other employees’ names, regardless of national origin. This conduct is inappropriate in the workplace but is not indicative of pervasive hostility toward the Plaintiff because of his national origin. The record further reflects that Daeisadeghi also participated in similar antics, as he repeatedly told Bekteshi that he was going to “kick [his] ass” or “kick [him] in the head.” The Court cannot then conclude that Bekteshi or Harrison’s “crazy Persian” remarks, although they were recited regularly, created a hostile work environment directed at the Plaintiff because Daeisadeghi himself participated in similar, objectionable conduct. This appears to be part of a workplace atmosphere that generally condoned inappropriate behavior, including joking between employees rather than one saturated with discriminatory animus.

The court additionally noted that the remaining hostile work environment factors weighed in favor of defendant. For example, the court observed that plaintiff “has not alleged that he was ever physically threatened or humiliated.”

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