Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Against NYC Department of Education Dismissed; “Not a Good Fit” Comment Notwithstanding

In Mauro v. New York City Department of Education et al, 2020 WL 3869206 (S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2020), the court, inter alia, adopted a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation dismissing plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim asserted against the New York City Department of Education under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The decision summarizes the well-known standard for making out a hostile work environment claim under federal, state, and city law:

To succeed on a hostile work environment claim under Title VII and NYSHRL, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the workplace exhibits 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. Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21 (1993) … . Under the NYCHRL, a plaintiff bringing a hostile work environment claim must demonstrate that he was treated “less well than other employees” due to a protected characteristic.

Applying the law, the court concluded:

Plaintiff merely argues that [school principal defendant] claimed that he was “not a good fit” for the position. This isolated incident does not satisfy the “severe or pervasive” standard under Title VII and NYSHRL. … Further, Plaintiff asserts that only Caucasian teachers “received letters to file” without providing any additional evidence of discrimination in support of his assertion. These facts alone do not support an inference that he was treated “less well” than other employees and, therefore, Plaintiff also does not meet the standard under NYCHRL. Lastly, because Plaintiff did not oppose Defendants’ motion to dismiss a hostile work environment claim, that claim is deemed waived and, thereby, dismissed. [Citations omitted.]

The court also adopted the R&R dismissing plaintiff’s race discrimination, retaliation, and claim for individual liability against the school’s principal.

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