National Origin, Religion-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Sufficiently Alleged, Court Holds

In Sokolovsky v. Silver Lake Specialized Care Center et al, 21-CV-01598 (MKB), 2023 WL 5977298 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 14, 2023), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged claims of hostile work environment (based on her national origin and religion) under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

As to plaintiff’s federal and state claims, the court explained:

Plaintiff has plausibly alleged section 1981 and NYSHRL hostile work environment claims. Plaintiff generally claims that she “endured a verifiable tale of egregious and unlawful hostile work environment on account of her national origin and religion during her final months at Silver Lake,” (Am. Compl. ¶ 91), and that her bosses made “intentionally discriminatory comments about [her] Russian ethnicity and ancestry and her Jewish ethnicity based upon the fact that she was not as observant as her bosses,” (id. ¶ 9). However, Plaintiff also specifically alleges that Torricelli berated her in front of her colleagues, (id. ¶ 123–131), and supervisors, (id. ¶ 184); Michael Kraus made remarks about “a formal method of communication in this country,” (id. ¶ 163), and complained about Plaintiff’s “ ‘whining’ about Shabbos,’ ” (id. ¶ 193), and that she was “the worst example of a Jew,” (id. ¶ 195); Silver Lake executives discussed “how they would have never hired [her] because she is from ‘Russia,’ ” (id. ¶ 185); and Weingarten admonished fellow executives in a meeting near the date of Plaintiff’s firing to “put all biases aside because Alexandra is Jewish or Russian,” (id. ¶ 189). These comments are sufficient to state a hostile workplace claim under section 1981. See, e.g., Nagaraj v. Sandata Techs., LLC, No. 18-CV-4748, 2020 WL 7249338, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. June 16, 2020) (denying a motion to dismiss a section 1981 hostile work environment claim where plaintiff’s supervisor was “calling him derogatory names and ridiculing the way he speaks”), report and recommendation adopted, No. 18-CV-4748, 2020 WL 6482194 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 4, 2020); see also Jaffery v. Downtown Pharmacy, Inc., No. 20-CV-3437, 2021 WL 1199074, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2021) (denying a motion to dismiss with respect to a section 1981 hostile work environment claim where plaintiff alleged that defendants “made repeated comments directed at her race and ethnicity”).

The court further held that since plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to state a claim under the more stringent federal and state law, they necessarily were sufficient under the New York City Human Rights Law.

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