NYPD Officer Sufficiently Alleges Disability-Based Hostile Work Environment Under the NYC Human Rights Law

In Thomas v. City of New York, No. 159891/2022, 2024 WL 2274935 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County May 20, 2024), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim asserted under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

The City next moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s second cause of action for hostile work environment under the NYCHRL. To state a cause of action for hostile work environment under the NYCHRL, a plaintiff must allege that they were treated “differently” or “less well” than other employees because of a protected status (Askin v Department of Educ. of the City of N.Y., 110 AD3d 621, 622 [1st Dept 2013]; Williams, 61 AD3d at 78). The plaintiff must allege more than “petty slights and trivial inconveniences” (Suri v Grey Glob. Grp., Inc., 164 AD3d 108, 118 [1st Dept 2018]). “[A] a contention that the behavior was a petty slight or trivial inconvenience constitutes an affirmative defense, which should be raised in the defendants’ answer, and does not lend itself to a pre-answer motion to dismiss” (Kaplan v New York City Dept of Health & Mental Hygiene, 142 AD3d 1050, 1051 [2d Dept 2016], citing Williams, 61 AD3d at 80; Wilcox v Newark Val. Cent. School Dist., 74 AD3d 1558, 1562 [2d Dept 2010]). Questions of “severity” and “pervasiveness” are applicable to consideration of the scope of permissible damages, but not to the question of underlying liability (Williams, 61 AD3d at 76).

The City avers that Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently plead that he was treated less well because of his perceived disability and has not adequately identified comments or actions made to him that would be so offensive as to unreasonably interfere with Plaintiff’s work (NYSCEF Doc No. 20, affirmation in support at 19). Plaintiff asserts that he has met hid burden by pleading that he was repeatedly called disabled when he was not, was harassed by being forced to attend monthly doctor’s appointments, was surveyed off the job due to his perceived disability status, was barred from earning overtime or promotion during the survey, and was repeatedly threatened with termination over his disability (NYSCEF Doc No. 23, affirmation in opposition at 31). Applying the required liberal pleading standard, Plaintiff has adequately pleaded a cause of action for hostile work environment. Plaintiff’s allegations that he was denied overtime and promotional opportunities due to his perceived disability are adequate to plead that he was treated differently or less well than non-disabled employees, and allegations that [he] was repeatedly told he would be forced to retire or “surveyed” off the job have been found by several courts to sufficiently allege facts that allege a plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The court also denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of disability discrimination, as well as failure to accommodate/engage in cooperative dialogue.

Share This: