Sexual Harassment Claims Survive Summary Judgment Against NYC Health & Hospital Corp.

In Morris v. New York City Health and Hospital Corp., 09-CV-5692, 2018 WL 4762247 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2018), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s sexual harassment (hostile work environment) claim, with respect to one alleged harasser.

As to plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, the court explained:

After assessing the totality the alleged conduct, the relevant factors, and the Second Circuit’s caution against “setting the [hostile work environment] bar too high,” Terry, 336 F.3d at 148, the Court finds that Plaintiff has established a prima facie case of sexual harassment claim under a hostile work environment theory.

Plaintiff contends that the following facts contributed to Pollack’s conduct creating a hostile work environment: (1) giving Plaintiff a menu and requesting that he make a dinner reservation for the two of them; (2) trying to touch Plaintiff’s groin; (3) trying to kiss Plaintiff once in the examination room; (4) offering to pay for Plaintiff’s dental courses; and (5) making a comment about parking to Plaintiff that Plaintiff understood to be sexual in nature. (Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 6–7.) As discussed above, by trying to kiss Plaintiff and trying to touch his groin, Plaintiff has sufficiently shown the sexual nature of Pollack’s conduct.

In addition, based on Plaintiff’s description of Pollack’s behavior as “unwelcome,” “inappropriate,” “insulting,” and “offensive,” (Pl. Opp’n ¶ 4, Docket Entry No. 119), a reasonable jury could find that Pollack’s conduct was subjectively hostile and abusive. …

Moreover, a reasonable person would find an unwelcome attempted kiss, an invitation to dinner, and attempted touching to the groin to be severe, physically threatening, and humiliating.

The court also held that plaintiff could proceed with his “quid pro quo” sexual harassment claim, based on its finding that “a reasonable jury could find based on Plaintiff’s sworn testimony that Pollack’s conduct was sexual, Plaintiff’s termination was, at least in part, due to his rejection of Pollack’s advances, and could further find that Pollack was a de facto decision maker or supervisor[.]”

Leave a Reply