Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Sufficiently Alleged Against NYC Dept. of Education Under City Law

In Campbell v. New York City Department of Education et al, No. 14634, 2020-02035, 32672/18E, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 06918, 2021 WL 5828645 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Dec. 09, 2021), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently a claim of race-based hostile work environment under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

This decision illustrates the differences between the New York State Human Rights Law, on the one hand, and the more protective New York City Human Rights Law, on the other.

From the decision:

Plaintiff’s allegations of hostile work environment do not rise to the level of “severe and pervasive,” as required by the State HRL (see Chin v New York City Housing Auth., 106 AD3d 443, 444–445 [1st Dept 2013], lv denied 22 NY3d 861 [2014] ). However, the allegations that O’Donnell made disparaging comments about plaintiff’s race on a few occasions, while issuing several write-ups and ultimately transferring her to another school, could support plaintiff’s allegation that she was treated “less well,” at least in part due to discriminatory reasons, under the City HRL (see Hernandez v. Kaisman, 103 AD3d 106, 114–115 [1st Dept 2012] ). In addition, under a notice pleading standard, the complaint sufficiently alleges that: (1) plaintiff is a member of a protected class (Black); (2) she was subjected to an adverse employment action (termination) under the State HRL or treated less well than other employees under the City HRL; and (3) as to O’Donnell, the adverse or different treatment was made under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination (see Matter of Local 621 v New York City Dept. of Transp., 178 AD3d 78, 81 [1st Dept 2019] ).

The court also held that plaintiff failed to state claims of age discrimination and retaliation, as well as other claims based on facts occurring outside the applicable statutes of limitation.

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