Under the laws of the State and New York City, people are protected from discrimination based on their religion. Thus, if a person is discriminated against in the workplace due to his or her religious identity, and it creates a hostile work environment, the person’s employer may be held liable. The mere identification as a member of a certain religion is insufficient to sustain a hostile work environment claim, however. Rather, a plaintiff alleging a hostile work environment on the basis of religious discrimination must show that the alleged discriminatory conduct rose to a certain level for the conduct to be actionable.
Recently, a New York appellate court discussed a plaintiff’s burden of proof in a hostile work environment case under both the New York State (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), in a case in which the plaintiff alleged discrimination on the basis of his religion. If you believe you were the victim of a hostile work environment, it is wise to speak with a trusted New York hostile work environment attorney to discuss whether you may have a viable claim against your employer.
Factual Background of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff, who is Jewish, was employed as a firefighter by the defendant city. He filed a complaint with the equal employment office of the defendant, alleging discrimination on the basis of his religion, but the office determined his complaints to be unsubstantiated. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging employment discrimination and hostile work environment claims on the basis of his religion in violation of the NYSHRL and NYCHRL. Specifically, he alleged that one of his co-workers made an anti-Semitic comment and that after he complained about the comment, he was subject to several instances of retaliation, which created a hostile work environment. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.