Retaliation Claims Survive Dismissal Against High Hopes Films, LLC

In Breiding v. High Hopes Films, LLC, No. 152385/2023, 2024 WL 144966, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op. 30135(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 12, 2024), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of retaliation under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

From the decision:

In order to state a claim for retaliation under the NYSHRL “a plaintiff must show that (1) [they were] engaged in a protected activity, (2) [their] employer was aware that [they] participated in such activity, (3) [they] suffered an adverse employment action based upon [their] activity, and (4) there is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action” (Herskowitz v State of New York, 2023 NY App. Div. Lexis 6990 [1st Dept 2023]).

Similarly, “to make out an unlawful retaliation claim under the NYCHRL, a plaintiff must show that (1) he or she engaged in a protected activity as that term is defined under the NYCHRL, (2) his or her employer was aware that he or she participated in such activity, (3) his or her employer engaged in conduct which was reasonably likely to deter a person from engaging in that protected activity, and (4) there is a causal connection between the protected activity and the alleged retaliatory conduct” (Brightman v Prison Health Serv., Inc., 108 AD3d 739, 740 [1st Dept 2013]).

Here, Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint that “Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for complaining about discrimination, by redoubling their efforts to create a hostile work environment based upon sexual harassment, by attacking and undermining her professional reputation, and by terminating her employment,” resulting in damages to Plaintiff (NYSCEF Doc. 2 at ¶ 70, 81). Affording Plaintiff the benefit of every possible favorable inference, the Court finds that Plaintiff has successfully stated claims for retaliation under both the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Second Cause of Action is denied,

The court additionally held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged claims for gender discrimination/sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, breach of contract, and tortious interference with business relations.

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