Race-Based Hostile Work Environment Claim Sufficiently Alleged Under NYC Human Rights Law

In Thompson v. The City of New York, No. 525109/2022, 2024 WL 2941866 (N.Y. Sup Ct, Kings County June 11, 2024), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim under the New York City Human Rights Law.

While the court held that plaintiff did not sufficiently allege a hostile work environment under the New York State Human Rights Law, she met the city law’s more lenient standard.

From the decision:

[U]nder NYCHRL, a plaintiff must only show that he or she was treated less well than other employees because of the relevant characteristic (Bilitch v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 194 AD3d 999, 1003 [2d Dept 2021]; Llanos v T-Mobile USA, Inc., 132 AD3d 823, 824 [2d Dept 2015] [noting that the NYHRL “ ‘explicitly requires an independent liberal construction analysis…targeted to understanding and fulfilling…the [NYCHRL’s] ‘uniquely broad and remedial’ purposes, which go beyond those of counterpart state or federal civil rights laws’ ”], quoting Williams v New York City Hous. Auth., 61 AD3d 62, 66 [1st Dept 2009]; Nelson v HSBC Bank USA, 87 AD3d 995, 999 [2d Dept 2011]). The conduct alleged must exceed what a reasonable victim of discrimination would consider petty slights and trivial inconveniences, and mere personality conflicts will not suffice to establish a hostile work environment (Reichman v City of New York, 179 AD3d 1115,1118 [2d Dept 2020]). Here, Plaintiff alleged facts sufficient to state a hostile work environment cause of action under the NYCHRL. She describes a situation in which a similarly situated white female officer received a significantly less punishment in the form of a docking of pay and precinct transfer, as opposed to the threat of firing and loss of accrued pension benefits.

This decision is, accordingly, instructive as to how courts assess the sufficiency of pleadings asserting violations of the New York City Human Rights Law.

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