Nigerian Man’s Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal

From Ajoku v New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, No. 159104/18, 2020 WL 886160, at *4 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Feb. 20, 2020):

[T]he court declines to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim against OTDA and Contento. A racially hostile work environment exists under the NYSHRL “[w]hen 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” (Forest, supra at 310 quoting Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 US 17 [1993]). Contrary to defendants’ contention, plaintiff has alleged both that he was subjected to a sufficiently severe hostile work environment based upon his Nigerian national origin. The complaint does not merely allege that plaintiff suffered a few insults. He claims that he was routinely improperly criticized, given negative performance appraisals, disfavored as compared to similarly situated, non-Nigerian coworkers and threatened with termination. The court further rejects defendants’ characterization that plaintiff’s allegations were merely “episodic.”

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