Race, Sex-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Dismissed; Favoring Friends Held Insufficient

In Judkins v. The Brooklyn Hospital Center et al, 2023 WL 2652279 (E.D.N.Y. March 27, 2023), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s race- and sex-based hostile work environment claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

To plead a claim for hostile work environment based on race or sex in violation of Title VII, a plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating that the workplace is so permeated with 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. Plaintiff has failed to do so here. Plaintiff’s allegations that Dr. Butel would change Plaintiff’s schedule to accommodate and favor his preferred residents, and female friends, without more, are insufficient to establish a hostile work environment because Title VII does not prohibit people from favoring their friends, however unjust or unfair that may be. And, Plaintiff’s allegation that Dr. Butel ignored her during a single shift cannot carry the day because it is plainly not pervasive and cannot reasonably be described as severe. The closest Plaintiff comes to establishing a hostile work environment is her allegation that Dr. Butel made sexual advances toward her. However, Plaintiff fails to support that allegation with any specific facts from which the Court can infer that the advances were severe or pervasive enough to have altered the conditions of her employment. See, e.g., Holohan v. Newmark & Co. Real Estate, Inc., No. 18-CV-6275, 2019 WL 4743883, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 16, 2019) (plaintiff failed to state a hostile work environment claim despite alleging two to three incidents of sexual harassment occurring over the period of several months); McKenna v. VCS Grp. LLC, No. 08-CV-1563, 2009 WL 3193879, at *5 (D. Conn. Sept. 30, 2009) (plaintiff failed to state a claim despite alleging “not less than fifteen (15) occasions” over course of seven months of employment on which supervisor commented on her cleavage).

[Cleaned up.]

The court thus concluded that plaintiff “failed to plead sufficient facts establishing that Dr. Butel’s conduct toward her materially altered the terms and conditions of her employment,” warranting dismissal of her Title VII and § 1981 hostile work environment claims.

Share This: