“Gender Identity”-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal Motion

In Smith v. Global Contact Holding Co., No. 156087/2019, 2020 WL 3485542 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County June 26, 2020), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged a hostile work environment based on his “gender identify” under the New York State Human Rights Law.

The court summarized the law as follows:

Under the State HRL, a plaintiff claiming a hostile work environment must show that 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. To determine whether a hostile work environment exists, a court must consider all the circumstances, including the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance, and whether it unreasonably interfered with an employee’s work performance.

Applying the law, the court explained:

Plaintiff alleges that he was subject to a hostile work environment, by, among other things, the persistent and repeated use of a female name and pronouns when referring to him, and being subject to remarks such as “I’m not going to call you Devon or he, everyone can see you are a woman” and “you’ve got some big things up there, you’re no guy.” He was also referred to as “my girl” and “fat bitch.” The complaint indicates that such incidents were pervasive and occurred repeatedly throughout plaintiff’s employment. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff the circumstances set forth in the complaint sufficiently allege that plaintiff was subject to a hostile work environment based on his gender identity under the State HRL.

Share This: