Sexual Harassment Plaintiff May Continue to Proceed Under a Pseudonym in Case Against Bloomberg L.P.

In Doe v. Bloomberg L.P., 2021 NY Slip Op 06754 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. Dec. 2 2021), the Appellate Division, First Department, held that the plaintiff may pursue her claims against Bloomberg L.P. – including for employment discrimination and sexual harassment – pseudonymously.

From the decision:

The presumption in favor of open trials and the potential prejudice to defendant did not outweigh plaintiff’s privacy interest (see Anonymous v Lerner, 124 AD3d 487, 487 [1st Dept 2015]). In addition to her own affidavit attesting to the psychological harm it would cause to disclose her name publicly, plaintiff submitted affidavits from her treating psychologist and psychiatrist, both of whom opined that forcing plaintiff to proceed with the litigation under her legal name would have severe consequences for her mental health. This particularized medical evidence corroborating plaintiff’s claims of personal harm is compelling (see Doe v Smith, 105 F Supp 2d 40, 43-44 [ED NY 1999]; Doe No. 2 v Kolko, 242 FRD 193, 195-196 [ED NY 2006]).

Defendant’s assertions of prejudice are undermined by the fact that he waited approximately four years to challenge plaintiff’s filing of the complaint under a pseudonym. Further, he knows the identity of plaintiff and potential witnesses, and thus is not hindered in mounting a defense.

Accordingly, the court reversed the lower court’s decision granting defendant’s motion to compel plaintiff to amend her pleadings to include her legal name.

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