Court Awards Plaintiffs Default Judgment on Claims of Sexual Harassment Against Clinton Street Pizza

In Aponte v. Clinton Street Pizza Inc., 2023 WL 1795189 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 7, 2023), the court, inter alia, granted plaintiffs’ application for a default judgment on their claims of hostile work environment sexual harassment asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law.

As to plaintiff’s Title VII claim, the court explained:

Plaintiff Aponte claims that when she worked for Defendant CSP, her direct manager, Defendant Orlando, “would often sexually harass [her] and make the work environment extremely hostile[.]” (AC ¶ 28.) Defendant Orlando regularly told Plaintiff Aponte that she was “pretty,” that she made him “horny,” and that “he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her” and “eat [her] for dinner.” (Id. ¶¶ 29-31.) When Plaintiff Aponte stocked shelves, Defendant Orlando would also “frequently touch and grab her behind her legs and her back, sexually assaulting [her].” (Id. ¶ 34.) The Court finds that such allegations of severe and pervasive sexual harassment are more than adequate to state a sexually hostile work environment claim pursuant to Title VII.

The court explained that, since plaintiff Aponte stated a claim under Title VII, she necessarily stated one under the New York City Human Rights Law, which has a “more lenient standard” than Title VII.

It also held that another plaintiff, a homosexual male, likewise successfully alleged a hostile work environment under the NYC Human Rights Law:

Plaintiff Marques, a homosexual male, claims that Defendants violated NYCHRL by discriminating against him and “harassing him on a daily basis” on account of his sexual orientation. (AC ¶¶ 41, 52, 91-93.) Specifically, Plaintiff Marques alleges that Defendants Orlando and Taormina5 often “ma[d]e fun of [his] sexual orientation” and “ma[d]e sexual and homophobic comments about him in the kitchen to other staff.” (Id. ¶¶ 48, 50-51.) When male customers were present, they would “ask Plaintiff Marques if he wanted to have sex with them or date them.” (Id. ¶ 50.) Additionally, Defendant Orlando would “frequently tell Plaintiff Marques’s male co-workers to ‘watch out’ or ‘be careful’ because Marques liked men and he would like to have sex with [them].” (Id. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff Marques alleges that Defendants’ conduct made him “feel extremely uncomfortable and mistreated” and “ma[d]e it impossible for [him] to complete his work tasks.” (Id. ¶¶ 51, 54.) Such allegations show that Plaintiff Marques was “treated less well than other employees” because of his sexual orientation. Hence, the Court concludes that Plaintiff Marques has successfully pled a hostile work environment claim under NYCHRL.

Having found that defendants are entitled to a default judgment on these claims, the court referred this action to a Magistrate Judge for an inquest into damages and attorneys’ fees.

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