Sexually Hostile Work Environment Claim Survives Dismissal Against NYU Langone Hospitals Under the NYC Human Rights Law

In Murray v. NYU Langone Hospitals et al, No. 151402/2019, 2021 WL 1204988 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 29, 2021), the court dismissed plaintiff’s discrimination and retaliation claims, but held that plaintiff’s sexual harassment / hostile work environment claim under the New York City Human Rights Law was sufficiently alleged.

While this decision does not elaborate on the factual details, in her Amended Complaint (filed May 7, 2019, NYSCEF Doc. No. 14), plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that her supervisor touched plaintiff’s buttocks with his hand, pressed his penis against plaintiff’s buttocks, grabbed plaintiff’s hand and placed it on his penis, and grabbed plaintiff’s vagina.

From the decision:

Even accepting the allegations of the amended complaint as true, and giving her every favorable inference to be drawn therefrom, the plaintiff fail[s] to state a prima facie case of illegal discrimination. Nowhere in her amended complaint, which is verified by her attorney, does plaintiff allege any conduct on the part of her employer, defendant NYU Langone Hospital, which constitutes an adverse employment action under either the New York State Human Rights Law or that disadvantaged plaintiff under the New York City Human Rights Law. Likewise, with respect to plaintiff’s claim of illegal retaliation, this court finds that her complaint is insufficient, as it contains no allegation that plaintiff suffered any adverse employment action, whether in the form of an ultimate action, such as a demotion, suspension or termination, or any material adverse changes in terms and conditions of employment, or any action that is reasonably likely to deter a person from engaging in protected activity. The court notes that such are the same omissions that United States District Court Judge Batts found wanting in plaintiff’s complaint alleging employment discrimination under federal law in Murray v Langone Hospitals, (18 Civ 2520 [SDNY]).

However, with respect to her allegations that she suffered a sexually hostile work environment, that the individual defendants aided and abetted such hostile workplace, and that defendant NYU Langone Hospital is liable respondent [sic] superior for any damages plaintiff suffered as a result of such an environment, this court finds that, though plaintiff’s claims “fall short” of the “‘severe and pervasive standard”’ of the New York State Human Rights Act, they are not “‘truly insubstantial”’, and therefore sufficiently state violations of the remedial provisions of the New York City Administrative Code §§ 8-107(1)(a) et seq. (“New York City Human Rights Act §§ 8-107 [1] (a), et. seq.”) (see Hernandez v Kaisman, 103 AD3d 106, 114-115 [1st Dept 2012]). [Citations and internal quotation marks omitted; cleaned up.]

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