Hostile Work Environment Claims Dismissed; Alleged Discomfort Insufficient; Damages Not Proven

In Martino v. Chenel Capital, LLC, No. 154267/2022, 2023 WL 4547887 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County July 11, 2023), the court dismissed plaintiff’s claims for hostile work environment asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws. Defendant failed to appear, and an inquest was held.

From the decision:

Here, the defendant’s conduct was not “so pervasive as to permeate the workplace and alter the conditions of employment” for the plaintiff. See, Matter of Macksel v. Riverhead Cent. School Dist., 2 A.D.3d 731, 732 (2d Dep’t 2003). Although plaintiff testified that she felt uncomfortable around the defendant, there was no evidence presented that his conduct interfered with her work performance. To the contrary, the plaintiff’s testimony did not include that she missed work events after the subject incidents occurred, and she actually continued to interact voluntarily with the defendant. Specifically, plaintiff’s testimony did not indicate that her work product or performance was affected by the alleged conduct of defendant, as plaintiff alleged she was shocked to learn of her termination as she was prepared to work on several tasks before she was unable to access her work account.

Plaintiff failed to submit evidence to support any emotional distress, including but not limited to, medical records or a physician’s affirmation depicting her alleged damages. As to her claims for hostile environment and sexual harassment, the plaintiff’s testimony that she was made to “feel uncomfortable” during certain business meetings does not meet the criteria of being “severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of a plaintiffs employment” or unreasonably interfered with her work performance. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to submit evidence to support the damages sought for lost wages or loss of a career. Based on her testimony, she obtained comparable employment and also received unemployment benefits during the time she was out of work.

Accordingly, the court found “that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she has suffered and continues to suffer loss of a career, loss of salary bonus benefits and other compensation, such as out of pocket medical expenses, in addition to emotional pain and suffering injury to reputation, and loss of enjoyment of life, and thus, plaintiff has failed to prove said damages as alleged with competent evidence.”

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