Age-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Properly Dismissed, Notwithstanding “Old School” Comment, Second Circuit Concludes

In a recent decision, Lorraine A. Gittens-Bridges v. City of New York, Claudette , Dina Simon, Nadene Pinnock, Audwin Pemberton, Garland Barreto, 2023 WL 8825342 (2d Cir. Dec. 21, 2023), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, inter alia, affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment on plaintiff’s age-based hostile work environment claims.

From the decision:

As to Gittens’s hostile work environment claims, the district court correctly concluded that the vast majority of the conduct alleged to have created a hostile work environment did not in any way relate to her protected characteristic – i.e., her age. See Williams v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth., 61 F.4th 55, 69 (2d Cir. 2023) (“For a NYCHRL claim to survive summary judgment, the plaintiff need only show that her employer treated her less well than other employees, at least in part for a discriminatory reason.” (emphasis added and internal quotation marks omitted)). As stated previously, the comments referring to Gittens as an “old school secretary” and “mommy” were “no more than … petty slight[s]” and do not support an inference of age-based discrimination even under the more plaintiff-friendly NYCHRL standards.

And, having found that plaintiff failed to establish liability as to her direct claims, the court concluded that the district court correctly dismissed her aiding and abetting claims against the individual defendants (noting, in a footnote, that plaintiff failed to establish that the actions taken by the individual defendants were discriminatory).

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