Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Evidence, Including “Threatening Looks”, Insufficient

In a recent decision, Moxley v. State of New York, 17-cv-691, 2019 WL 5788440 (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 6, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim.

Among plaintiff’s allegations supporting this claim was her contention that her supervisor’s nephews (and co-workers) “g[ave] her dirty looks.”

Regarding this allegation, the court explained :

Frequent hostile stares can constitute evidence supporting a finding of an abusive working environment. See Bowen v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 311 F.3d 878, 885 (8th Cir. 2002) (reasonable jurors could find pervasively hostile work environment where there was evidence of offensive epithets, menacing remarks, frequent hostile stares, destroying a cake, threats of physical violence, and running directly at the plaintiff). But this case is unlike Bowen. There was evidence in that case that the hostile stares occurred on a “near daily basis,” id. at 881, whereas Ms. Moxley could not recall the number of instances of threatening looks directed against her. Critically, there is no evidence of any accompanying epithets, verbal threats, or violent conduct as in Bowen. Nor is there any significant evidence that the threatening looks interfered with Ms. Moxley’s work performance.

After evaluating this, and other, evidence, the court concluded that plaintiff “failed to meet her burden of showing an objectively hostile work environment.”