Retaliation Claims Sufficiently Alleged; Vandalism etc. Followed Witness Participation

In Loth v. City of New York, No. 160925/2021, 2023 WL 3456623 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County May 15, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s retaliation claims asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

From the decision:

Finally, the complaint adequately alleges claims for unlawful retaliation under the SHRL and CHRL Under the SHRL, to plead a claim for retaliation, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) she engaged in protected activity by opposing prohibited conduct; (2) defendant’s knowledge of the protected activity; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action as a result of her engagement in protected activity; and (4) a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the adverse action. (Bilitch, 194 A.D.3d at 1004 [internal citations omitted]). “In the context of a case of unlawful retaliation, an adverse employment action is one which might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.” (Id.) (quoting Keceli v Yonkers Racing Corp., 155 AD3d 1014, 1016 [2d Dept. 2017]). Under the CHRL, like discrimination victims, retaliation victims are provided with broader protection than their SHRL counterpart (see Bilitch, 194 AD3d at 1004) (citing Reichman v City of New York, 179 AD3d 1115 [2d Dept. 2020]). To plead a plausible retaliation, claim under NYCHRL, a plaintiff must show that: (1) she engaged in a protected activity; (2) her employer was aware of such activity; (3) her employer “engaged in conduct which was reasonably likely to deter a person from engaging in that protected activity;” and (4) a causal connection between the protected activity and alleged retaliatory conduct (Id.).

Here, the plaintiff has stated a plausible claim of retaliation under NYSHRL by alleging that she engaged in protected activity by agreeing to participate as a witness in her colleague’s EEO complaint against Tiberi and that she suffered an adverse employment action as a result of her engagement in protected activity when Defendant and/or Tiberi vandalized Plaintiff’s personal items, denied her overtime and promotional opportunities, filed disciplinary charges against her based upon false accusations, hindered her ability to enroll in medic classes and/or transfer within the department, docked her pay for alleged lateness, refused to provide her an evaluation, and increased her workload by assigning her to overtime shifts for which she never confirmed her availability. For the same reasons, plaintiff has sufficiently pled a plausible claim of retaliation under the more lenient NYCHRL standard. A reasonable person would likely be deterred from participating as a witness in an EEO interview and/or filing an internal EEO complaint if they were then subjected to vandalism of their personal items, denials of overtime and promotional opportunities, baseless disciplinary accusations, docked pay for false accusations of lateness, inability to enroll in necessary courses, and an increased workload as a result of said engagement.

Based on this, the court concluded that plaintiff’s claims for retaliation should stand.

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