Proposed Gender Discrimination Claims Sufficiently Alleged Against Liquid Media Group

In Katsoolis v. Liquid Media Group, Ltd., 2019 WL 6050972 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 15, 2019), the court ruled on proposed amendments to plaintiff’s employment discrimination complaint under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). This case is instructive as to how courts assess complaints for facial sufficiency vis-a-vis the issue of discriminatory motive/intent in an employment discrimination case.

The court had previously issued an Order dismissing plaintiff’s claim for workplace gender discrimination under NYCHRL § 8-107(1)(a)(3), but permitted plaintiffs to file a proposed second amended complaint to cure pleading deficiencies identified in the Order.

For example, the court granted plaintiff’s request to replead their NYCHRL claim against the entity defendants and individual defendants, noting:

[The NYCHRL] permits these claims against employer and employees alike, providing that “[i]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice [f]or an employer or an employee or agent thereof, because of the actual or perceived … gender … of any person … [t]o discriminate against such person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.” A NYCHRL employment gender discrimination claim requires pleading that a plaintiff “has been treated less well than other employees because of her gender” and that “the conduct is caused by a discriminatory motive.”

It noted that the proposed amended complaint contained sufficient allegations of discriminatory motive, including that:

(1) Defendants disparaged Plaintiff Krysanne Katsoolis’ alleged sexual relationship although they did not do the same regarding a male Defendant’s sexual relationship, (2) Defendants directed regular hostile rhetoric at Plaintiff Katsoolis in the workplace but never did so toward male colleagues, and (3) Defendant Jackson offered to install a male colleague in an office with a salary, although he gave Plaintiff Katsoolis the choice of either an office or salary around the same time period.

It concluded that “[t]hese examples together — particularly in light of Defendants’ hostility toward Plaintiff’s sexuality, a trait intertwined with her gender — provide minimal support of gender-based motivation at the pleading stage” and that plaintiff’s “allegations also plead differential treatment.”