Retaliation Claims, Based on Alleged Racial Harassment Following Opposition to Wage Calculation, Survive Dismissal

In Calixte v. 14 Street Medical, P.C., No. 522952/22, 2023 WL 4083561 (N.Y. Sup Ct, Kings County June 13, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of retaliation in violation of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

From the decision:

The third and sixth causes of action asserted against the Employer Defendants are for retaliation in violation of NYSHRL and NYCHRL, respectively.

“[A] plaintiff alleging retaliation in violation of NYSHRL must show that (1) he or she engaged in a protected activity by opposing conduct prohibited thereunder; (2) the defendant was aware of that activity; (3) he or she suffered an adverse action based upon his or her activity; and (4) there was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action” (Reichman v City of New York, 179 AD3d at 1119; see also Ellison v Chartis Claims, Inc., 178 AD3d 665, 667 [2019] [same]). The Second Department has noted that while the NYCHRL has similar elements, “[t]he NYCHRL offers retaliation victims, like discrimination victims, broader protection than its NYSHRL counterpart” (Reichman v City of New York, 179 AD3d at 1119).

Here, the complaint alleges that Calixte was engaged in protected activity by opposing the Defendants’ incorrect calculations of her wages in her wage statements and her supervisor’s allegedly racist and discriminatory responses to her legitimate inquiries. The complaint alleges that Calixte was mistreated by her Caucasian supervisor, defendant Feldman, who made racially charged statements referencing slavery and acted aggressively toward Calixte, an African American woman, in retaliation for her repeated inquiries about errors in her wage statements. The complaint alleges that “[n]o longer able to endure the race discrimination, the hostile work environment, the retaliation, and the emotional and psychological trauma, Plaintiff Calixte was forced to resign from her position on April 20, 2022” (NYSCEF Doc No. 1 at ¶ 102 [emphasis added]).

The court concluded that these allegations were sufficient to allege retaliation under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL.

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