Sexual Harassment Plaintiff May Not Proceed Pseudonymously, Court Holds

In John Doe v. The City of New York et al, 511209/2020, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 50916(U), 2021 WL 4468869 (Sup Ct, Sept. 29, 2021), the court (after largely dismissing plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims) denied plaintiff’s cross-motion to proceed under a pseudonym.

While relatively short, the court’s analysis is instructive. It explained:

Lastly, the determination of whether to allow a plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym, requires the court to “use its discretion in balancing plaintiff’s privacy interest against the presumption in favor of open trials and against any potential prejudice to defendant.” Anonymous v. Lerner, 124 AD3d 487; 998 N.Y.S.2d 619 (1st Dept. 2015). Claims of public humiliation and embarrassment are not sufficient grounds for allowing a plaintiff to proceed anonymously. Id. Although plaintiff wishes to proceed anonymously, he has not made any assertions that he feared embarrassment, economic harm from the public disclosure of his identity, social stigmatization, professional repercussions or social isolation from his peers and colleagues. Doe v. Yeshiva Univ., 195 AD3d 565; 146 N.Y.S.3d 482 (1st Dept. 2021). Plaintiff only states that the alleged touching of his leg is sensitive and sexual in nature, and warrants proceeding anonymously.

The court thus ordered that the complaint’s caption shall be amended to reflect plaintiff’s name.

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