Age & Disability-Related Hostile Work Environment Claims Sufficiently Alleged Against Crouse Health Hospital

In Buczakowski v. Crouse Health Hospital, Inc. et al, 18-cv-330, 2019 WL 6330206 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 26, 2019), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged a hostile work environment based on age and disability (cancer).

After reciting the hostile work environment standard, the court held that plaintiff “established [defendant] and several of its employees objectively acted towards Plaintiff in a pervasive and severe manner, which created an environment that was subjectively perceive[d] as hostile or abusive.”

Specifically:

Plaintiff alleges multiple incidents of plausibly hostile conduct that occurred in the span of just a month. For instance, when Crouse Hospital eliminated [a] title …, it promoted Plaintiff’s three younger, non-disabled colleagues (two of whom were also less senior) to new positions, while Plaintiff had to “bump” into a new position [which] compromised her job security and schedule and seniority and subject[ed] Plaintiff to discrimination, humiliation and disparagement. As another example, [defendant’s HR director] disclosed Plaintiff’s disability to a union representative without permission and told Plaintiff to “take Social Security Disability, retire, and apply for Medicare.” Crouse Hospital also excluded [Plaintiff] from all but the introductory … training while her younger, non-disabled co-workers even with less seniority were assigned full training providing better and more numerous employment opportunities. Plaintiff found such treatment to be hostile and “degrading. On or about May 11, 2017, [one of plaintiff’s supervisors] deliberately [did] not provid[e] work assignments to Plaintiff while providing such assignment to her [younger, non-disabled] co-workers in her place. Plaintiff resigned after a month of this treatment because she could endure no more. Accordingly, Plaintiff has alleged that the harassment permeated her work environment and occurred with such frequency such that a ‘reasonable employee would find the conditions of her employment altered for the worse. [Citations and some internal quotation marks omitted.]

The court also held, based on the above discussion, that plaintiff plausibly alleged that defendant created a hostile work environment “because of” plaintiff’s protected characteristics (here, age and disability), noting that “[p]laintiff has shown she was targeted because of her age and disability.”

In reaching its conclusion, the court distinguished the instant case from those cited by defendants, noting that in contrast to the facts of one of those cases, “[defendant] and several of its employees subjected Plaintiff to more instances of hostile conduct … over a shorter period of time.”