Hostile Work Environment Claims Dismissed; Comments Deemed “Petty Slights”

In Eliav v. Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation et al, 2024 WL 196477 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18 2024), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff failed to allege a religion-based hostile work environment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From the decision:

Plaintiff has adequately alleged that he subjectively perceived the work environment at RIOC to be hostile. The Amended Complaint lacks, however, allegations tending to show that a reasonable person would find the workplace to be hostile or abusive. Plaintiff alleges that, in early fall 2021, Robinson “harassed” him for taking time off from work to observe religious holidays. The harassment was apparently comprised of Robinson rescheduling a budget meeting that had been scheduled months earlier for September 2, 2021, to September 29, 2021, a date Defendants supposedly knew Plaintiff could not attend due to a religious holiday. The Amended Complaint also alleges that RIOC held “public meetings, classes, and opportunities in the Church on Roosevelt Island,” and that Defendants purposefully chose that location to exclude Plaintiff, knowing that, as an Orthodox Jew, he could not attend an event in a church. Plaintiff also alleges that Flug, a prior General Counsel, commented negatively at least twice on the treatment of women in Orthodox Judaism.

Accepting as true all of the factual allegations in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint and construing them in the light most favorable to him, those allegations do not adequately allege a hostile work environment that is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would have perceived it to be hostile or abusive. Robinson’s comments regarding time off to observe religious holidays and Flug’s two comments fall in the category of petty slights. … Plaintiff’s allegations that the budget meeting was rescheduled to a date conflicting with a Jewish holiday and that RIOC held “public meetings, classes, and opportunities” in a church to purposefully exclude him are entirely conclusory.

[Citations omitted.]

It concluded that “[e]ven considering the incidents cumulatively, however, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to plead facts that would allow the Court plausibly to infer that a reasonable person would perceive the work environment to be hostile or abusive.”

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