Discriminatory remarks and actions in the workplace can make a job unbearable and often form the basis of a hostile work environment claim. In many instances, one person or a limited group of people will partake in the discriminatory behavior, and they will be deemed liable while the company as a whole will not be responsible for the harm suffered. In some cases, though, a company may be found vicariously liable for its employees’ wrongful acts, as discussed in a recent New York opinion arising out of a hostile work environment lawsuit. If you were the victim of pervasive discrimination in the workplace, it is prudent to consult a dedicated New York hostile discrimination attorney to assess your options for seeking damages.
Allegedly, the plaintiff identifies as gender non-conforming and gay. He worked for the defendant glass company as a purchaser. In 2015, the defendant supervisor was placed in charge of the plaintiff. She immediately began treating the plaintiff differently than the other workers, frequently making comments about his sexuality and gender. Although there was no company procedure for dealing with discrimination, he reported the defendant supervisor’s behavior to the company owner, who stated he would speak to the defendant supervisor.
It is reported that the defendant supervisor was issued a warning; nevertheless, the discrimination continued. The handbook in effect at that time contained an anti-discrimination policy and a system of progressive discipline, but the defendant company did not adhere to the procedure. The plaintiff again complained to the company owner, and shortly thereafter, he was terminated. He filed a lawsuit against the defendants alleging, in part, that the defendant company was vicariously liable for the hostile work environment created by the defendant supervisor. The defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment.