Hostile Work Environment Claims Survive Summary Judgment; Court Cites Accent Mocking and Excessive Monitoring

In Hedvika Polonca Hribovsek v. United Cerebral Palsy of New York City et al, No. 1463, 152849/17, 2022-05615, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op. 00377, 2024 WL 330884 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Jan. 30, 2024), the court, inter alia, affirmed the denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims.

From the decision:

Finally, we reject defendants’ assertion that plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims should be dismissed. Plaintiff raised issues of fact regarding whether defendants’ alleged discriminatory conduct rose to the level required to support a claim of hostile work environment. Plaintiff alleged that Robinson mocked plaintiff’s accent on a weekly basis, including in the presence of her coworkers, claimed she did not understand plaintiff, and offered to educate plaintiff on how to speak English. Further, Robinson engaged in excessive monitoring of plaintiff by reviewing surveillance footage to determine when plaintiff arrived at the office and when she left for the day and monitoring when plaintiff was away from her desk, even for bathroom breaks. Robinson also directed plaintiff not to write personal notes for herself in Slovenian. There was no indication that Robinson engaged in such close tracking of any other employee under her supervision. [Citation omitted.]

The court did, however, determine that plaintiff’s claims for race and national origin discrimination and retaliation should have been dismissed.

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