Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Secretary Reassignment and Alleged Anxiety/Fear Insufficient

In Hilsby v. Schultz, No. 21211/2012, 2019 WL 6248396, 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 33395(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, Suffolk County Nov. 15, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim under the New York State Human Rights Law.

The court summarized the law: “A hostile work environment exists where the workplace is ‘permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.”

Applying this standard to the facts, the court concluded:

Here, plaintiff alleges that defendant Sahagun’s and defendant Sajan’s retaliatory animus in targeting her secretary, April Scafa, for reassignment to another division without first notifying plaintiff created a hostile work environment. Plaintiff also alleges that she was out ill for three weeks as a result of extreme anxiety and fear she experienced as a result of the retaliatory actions taken against her. She avers that a hostile work environment was created upon her return to work on February 29, 2012 when she was instructed to apply for medical leave. Plaintiff alleges her attempts to do so were futile, as her calls went unanswered and no one from Human Resources contacted her. It is alleged that “[t]his episode was put upon plaintiff merely to continue [sic] the retaliatory behavior towards plaintiff, thus creating a completely hostile work environment for her.” While plaintiff may have found these incidents offensive, her interactions with defendants taken together did not create an environment so severe or pervasive as to permeate the workplace and alter the conditions of plaintiff’s employment