Hostile Work Environment/Sexual Harassment Claim Survives Summary Judgment; Evidence Included Criticism Following Rejection of Sexual Advances

In Bond v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, No. 160658/13, 2022-00688, 35, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 01939, 2023 WL 2919893 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept. Apr. 13, 2023), the court, inter alia, affirmed the lower court’s denial of of defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s hostile work environment/sexual harassment claim under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

The motion court denied HHC’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the hostile work environment/sexual harassment claim, and HHC has not appealed from that aspect of the order. Since “[t]he City HRL does not differentiate between sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination, but requires that sexual harassment be viewed as one species of sex- or gender-based discrimination” (Crookendale v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 175 AD3D 1132, 1132 [1st Dept 2019] [internal quotation marks omitted] ), it was error to grant summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s gender discrimination claim, while denying the motion with respect to the hostile work environment and sexual harassment claim. Moreover, plaintiff need not show an adverse employment action in order to establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination under the City HRL (see O’Halloran v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 154 AD3d 83, 91 [1st Dept 2017] ). On this motion for summary judgment dismissing a claim under the City HRL, defendant bore the burden of showing that, based on the record evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff’s favor, no jury could find defendant liable for gender-based discrimination (see Bennett v. Health Mgt. Sys., Inc., 92 AD3d 29, 41 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 18 NY3d 811 [2012] ). Here, plaintiff submits sufficient evidence to support her assertions that, after she rejected her supervisor’s sexual advances, she was unjustifiably criticized for her work product and attendance by her supervisors and was stripped of her assignments, which permits a finding that she was treated “less well” based on her gender.

The court also modified the lower court’s order to deny defendant’s motion as to plaintiff’s claims of gender discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge.

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