Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed; Accent Comments Held Insufficient

In Triana v. NYC Health & Hospitals, No. 152276/2019, 2020 NY Slip Op 30605(U), 2020 WL 1031379 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Feb. 20, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race-based hostile work environment claims asserted under 42 USC §§ 1981 and 1983 and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The court explained:

Under the Human Rights Law, an allegedly hostile work environment must have been created because of plaintiff’s membership in a protected class. See Chin, 106 A.D.3d at 445. Further, “[c]ourts . . . continue to recognize that the law does not operate as a ‘general civility code,’ and conduct which is ‘nothing more than what a reasonable victim of discrimination would consider ‘petty slights and trivial inconveniences’ is not actionable.” Williams v. NY City Hous. Auth., 61 A.D.3d 62, 79-80 (1st Dept 2009). Plaintiff’s allegation that his supervisors made occasional comments about his accent and that he was occasionally asked to repeat himself clearly do not rise above the level of petty slights or trivial inconveniences.

Note (M. Pospis): See Kaplan v. NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, 2016 NY Slip Op 06063 (App. Div. 2nd Dept. Sept. 21, 2016) (holding that the “court erred in determining that [plaintiff’s] cause of action must be dismissed because the plaintiff failed to show that the behavior of her supervisor constituted more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience. The plaintiff does not have this burden. Rather, a contention that the behavior was a petty slight or trivial inconvenience constitutes an affirmative defense[.]”).

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