Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment Claims Survive Summary Judgment Against NY Presbyterian Queens

In Keeney v. New York-Presbyterian Queens, No. 702508/2019, 2023 WL 5979409, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 33090(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, Queens County Aug. 16, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of discrimination and hostile work environment asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claims, the court explained:

Upon a review of the record, the court finds that defendants fail to meet their summary judgment burden of eliminating all triable issues with respect to whether the alleged discriminatory conduct resulted in a “materially adverse change in the terms and conditions of employment” (Forrest, 3 NY3d at 306; Bilitch, 194 AD3d at 1001). Although defendants assert that mere disagreement with Camacho’s management style and the Hospital’s business decisions are insufficient to defeat summary judgment, triable issues remain regarding whether Camacho was motivated by animus against women of a certain age, whether defendants had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for their actions and whether such explanations were a pretext for discrimination (see Bilitch, 194 AD3d at 1002; Grella v St. Francis Hosp., 149 AD3d 1046, 1048 [2d Dept 2017]). Drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, it cannot be said, as a matter of law, that defendants’ conduct was not motivated by discrimination based on plaintiff’s age and/or gender.

With respect to plaintiff’s discrimination claims under the NYCHRL, it similarly cannot be said as a matter of law that defendants’ conduct was not motivated, at least in part, by age- or gender-based discrimination (see Blackman v Metro. Tr. Auth., 206 AD3d 602 [2d Dept 2022]; Lefort v Kingsbrook Jewish Med. Ctr., 203 AD3d 708 [2d Dept 2022]). Camacho’s repeated disparate treatment of plaintiff, viewed in the context of how he treated other females over a certain age in the department less favorably than others, supports an inference that she was discriminated against, particularly because defendants have not made a prima facie showing “that there is no evidentiary route” by which a jury could find that discrimination played a role in their challenged **6 actions.

Furthermore, the court held that plaintiff’s NYC Human Rights Law hostile work environment claim likewise survived summary judgment.

Specifically, it explained that “[a]lthough defendants argue that Camacho applied his operational changes and unpopular management style to all employees, plaintiff’s evidence raises triable issues as to whether his repeated age- and gender-related comments and rebukes created an abusive environment that only pertained to certain employees in the department” and that “[t]hese circumstances, such as the frequency of Camacho’s alleged discriminating conduct, whether it was physically threatening or humiliating, and whether it unreasonably interfered with plaintiff’s work, should be left for a jury to determine whether discriminatory intent was present.”

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