Hostile Work Environment Claims, Including Allegations of “Slave-Esque Working Conditions”, Dismissed

In Ellis v. City of New York, No. 159090/2022, 2024 WL 1195688 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 20, 2024), the court, inter alia, granted defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

From the decision:

In this instance, Plaintiff further asserts an unfounded conspiracy alleging that the DOC intentionally fostered a hostile work environment to diminish the presence of Black, Hispanic, female, and disabled employees (see Compl. at ¶ 33). To the extent that this can be construed as Plaintiff’s attempt to establish a discrimination claim based on the contention that she was subject to a hostile work environment, the court rejects that claim. Indeed, in accordance with the above-cited precedent, it is evident from the facts as presented in the complaint that no reasonable individual would perceive Plaintiff’s work environment as hostile or abusive based on race, gender, or disability. Plaintiff does not assert that she endured any race-, gender-, or disability-based insults, nor does she claim to have been targeted for humiliation or ridicule due to being Black, female, or disabled. Instead, Plaintiff simply alleges that Defendant “resorted to obscene hostile work environments” and subjected employees to “Slave-Esque working conditions” (Compl. ¶¶ 33, 42). However, such conclusory statements fail to establish a hostile work environment claim under either the NYCHRL or NYSHRL. As evidenced in cases such as Brock v. Prime, Index No. 100841/2022, 2022 N.Y.L.J LEXIS 1634, at *12 (Sup Ct, NY County, Sep. 19, 2022) and Howell v. United Fedn. Of Teachers Welfare Fund, Index No 153235/2017, 2020 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2486, at *21-22 (Sup Ct, NY County, June 3, 2022), claims of hostile work environment lacking specific factual details have been dismissed under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL. Consequently, as Plaintiff fails to assert a hostile work environment claim under the NYSHRL or NYCHRL, any such claim advanced by Plaintiff is dismissed.

This decision illustrates the need to flesh out allegations of hostile work environment with sufficient factual detail.

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