Court Dismisses Hostile Work Environment Claim, Citing Lack of Examples of Alleged Conduct

In Kagel-Betts v Warren, No. 601810/2023, 81 Misc. 3d 1233(A), 202 N.Y.S.3d 723, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op. 50055(U), 2024 WL 237743 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Suffolk Cty. Jan. 12, 2024), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim asserted under the New York State Human Rights Law.

As to that claim, the court explained:

Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim is also dismissed. “A hostile work environment exists where the workplace is ‘permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment’ ” (La Marca-Pagano v Dr. Steven Phillips, P.C., 129 AD3d 918, 919, 12 NYS3d 192 [2d Dept. 2015]) quoting Harris v Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 US 17, 21, 114 S Ct 367 [1993]; see also Forrest v Jewish Guild for the Blind, supra). The hostile work environment count alleges that plaintiff received harassing emails from Warren, that Warren failed to respond to certain texts and phone calls, that plaintiff was excluded from meetings and written communications, and that plaintiff’s purported “Chief of Staff” related duties were reassigned to Warren’s new assistant. While the complaint alleges that the claimed hostile work environment caused plaintiff to be unable to complete her tasks, the complaint does not provide any examples to support this claim. While plaintiff may have perceived certain communications or actions to be offensive, taken together, the allegations of the complaint, as amplified by plaintiff’s affidavit, do not allege an environment so severe or pervasive as to permeate the workplace and alter the conditions of plaintiff’s employment.

The court further dismissed plaintiff’s claim of retaliation, finding (among other things) that plaintiff’s complaint did not allege that plaintiff engaged in “protected activity.”

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