NYPD Sergeant’s Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Summary Judgment

n Irons v. The City of New York, 16-cv-3708, 2019 WL 3752870 (EDNY Aug. 8, 2019), the court, inter alia, denied defendant City’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s employment discrimination and hostile work environment claims.[1]As with many blog posts, here I have addressed only a subset of this lengthy and detailed decision; the reader is encouraged to review the decision in its entirety.

As to the hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

Here, Irons has presented enough evidence to raise a genuine issue of fact regarding whether the discrimination she experienced rose to the level of a hostile workplace. She testified at her deposition that Schroeder “repeatedly” told her that she was “hot” and that “he love[s] black girls.” She also stated that Camhi would make “a lot” of derogatory and sexual remarks about African-American women. Because Irons’s testimony demonstrates that those harassing comments were ongoing—rather than isolated incidents—she has created an issue of fact regarding whether the harassment was sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment. See Whidbee v. Garzarelli Food Specialties, Inc., 223 F.3d 62, 70 (2d Cir. 2000) (“While a mild, isolated incident does not make a work environment hostile, the test is whether the harassment is of such quality or quantity that a reasonable employee would find the conditions of her employment altered for the worse.

The court also concluded that plaintiff presented enough facts to overcome summary judgment on the issue of imputing this conduct to the employer:

Here, it is undisputed that Camhi and Schroeder were Irons’s supervisors. Therefore, if a jury finds that they created a hostile work environment, the City can only escape liability by establishing an affirmative defense. However, Irons has created an issue of fact regarding the City’s affirmative defense because she testified at her deposition that Valerga reinstated Schroeder as her supervisor, despite knowing about Schroeder’s sexual harassment. The Court, therefore, cannot award the City summary judgment on Irons’s hostile work environment claim.

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1. As with many blog posts, here I have addressed only a subset of this lengthy and detailed decision; the reader is encouraged to review the decision in its entirety.