Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment Claims Sufficiently Alleged Against Boat Basin Café

In Montiel v. Degeorgio, No. 155126/2019, 2022 WL 783951 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 15, 2022), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion to dismiss employment discrimination claims asserted by plaintiff under the New York City and State Human Rights Laws.

Among other things, plaintiff – a 38 year-old Hispanic male employed as a bartender at Boat Basin – alleges that he was told that management was considering replacing the male bartenders with Caucasian, female bartenders because the owners were “going for the ‘Hamptons Look.’”

After concluding that plaintiff may proceed, under the “joint employer” or “single employer” doctrine, against Boat Basin and Ace Endico, the court turned to the merits of plaintiff’s discrimination claim.

Applying the law, the court held:

Plaintiff claims, among other things, that Ace Endico and codefendants wrongfully terminated him, subjected him to a hostile work environment, and retaliated against him because of willful discrimination based on his age, race, color, national origin, and gender, in violation of the NYSHRL and NYCHRL.

Construing the pleading in the most favorable light, plaintiff satisfactorily alleges viable claims against Ace Endico for discrimination under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL. The pleadings sufficiently allege that plaintiff, a 38-year old, Hispanic male, is a member of a protective class, and the allegations of plaintiff’s 17-year employment, coupled with multiple promotions, are sufficient to show that he was qualified for the position from which he was terminated

Furthermore, the pleadings sufficiently allege that plaintiff suffered adverse employment action, including a hostile work environment and wrongful termination, that occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination based on age, race, color, national origin, and gender. A racially hostile work environment exists where “the workplace is permeated by 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. Adverse actions are those which affect the terms, privileges, duration, or conditions of the plaintiff’s employment. Plaintiff satisfactorily alleges that he was told that the owners and management intended to terminate him and most of the male employees, and replace them with young, Caucasian female employees; that he was berated and humiliated in front of his coworkers; that he was given an ultimatum regarding his employment; and that he was wrongfully terminated under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination, so as to survive a motion to dismiss. [Cleaned up.]

The court did, however, dismiss plaintiff’s retaliation claims, since plaintiff did not “allege any facts to establish that he engaged in a protected activity; that his employer was aware that he participated in such activity, that he suffered adverse employment action based upon his activity, and that there was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.”

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