Rumors of Relationship Held Not Hearsay in Employment Discrimination / Sexual Harassment Case

In Naumovski v. Binghamton University, State University of New York, 3:11-CV-1097, 2019 WL 5445346 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 24, 2019), the court denied defendant’s motion to exclude, on hearsay grounds, alleged rumors of a relationship involving plaintiff.

From the decision:

Defendants contend plaintiff should be excluded from offering her own testimony or that of others regarding rumors that she was having a relationship with J.W. They argue the alleged rumors are hearsay and not permitted under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(c). Plaintiff opposes and contends the evidence is admissible and will not be asserted for the truth of the matter.

Hearsay is defined as a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. F.R.E. 801. However, hearsay evidence may be admissible for purposes other than to prove the truth of the matter asserted. See e.g., United States v. Dupree, 706 F.3d 131, 136 (2d Cir. 2013). Evidence about the rumors is directly relevant to plaintiff’s discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims. She does not seek to prove the truth of the rumors, only that the rumors existed. The alleged rumors are relevant to show defendants’ awareness of what plaintiff contends is unlawful conduct, as well as their response or lack thereof to plaintiff’s concerns, and the effect that any rumors had on plaintiff.