Sexual Orientation-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Dismissed

In Floyd v. Jewish Bd. of Family and Children’s Services, No. 155925/2019, 2024 WL 1096320 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 13, 2024), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s claim of hostile work environment based on plaintiff’s sexual orientation, in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

Furthermore, plaintiff fails to set forth a prima facie case of discriminatory hostile work environment. To prevail on such claim, “plaintiff must show that she was subjected to harassment based on her sexual orientation and that the harassment was so pervasive as to ‘alter the conditions of [her] employment and create an abusive working environment’ ” (Brennan v Metropolitan Opera Assn, Inc., 284 AD2d 66, 72 [1st Dept 2001] [internal citations and quotations omitted]). Whether an environment would reasonably be perceived, and is perceived, as hostile or abusive can be determined only by looking at all the circumstances, which may include the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, and whether it unreasonably interfered with plaintiff’s work performance (see id.). The NYCHRL standard is “whether defendants’ conduct was more than ‘petty slights and trivial inconveniences’ ” (Sarr v Saks Fifth Ave. LLC, 2016 WL 5142473, *3 [Sup Ct, NY County 2016]).

Here, plaintiff bases her claim of discriminatory hostile work environment on her testimony that Israel Levy made negative facial expressions, required her to clock out and in for lunch breaks, stopped attending meetings with her, and stopped answering her telephone calls and messages. However, isolated remarks or occasional episodes of harassment will not support a finding of a hostile or abusive work environment.

Based on this, the court held that dismissal was warranted.

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