Federal Court Says New York City Gender and Harassment Case Must Go to Trial

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reportedly found that a worker’s sexual discrimination lawsuit may proceed despite that there was substantial evidence she performed her work in a mediocre fashion. In Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America, a worker sued her former employer, Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America (Cheuvreux), for discrimination and retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law following her termination after nine months of employment. According to the worker, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) made inappropriate sexual comments to her from early on in her employment. The CEO also allegedly propositioned her for sex, showed her pornographic materials, and fostered an overall “boy’s club atmosphere.” After she allegedly told the CEO his conduct was inappropriate and unprofessional, she was terminated for poor performance.

At the trial court level, the Southern District of New York found there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Mahalik performed her job duties poorly and granted Cheuvreux’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Second Circuit held that the lower court should have allowed the case to go to trial because a genuine issue of fact with regard to the plaintiff’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims existed. Because of this, the plaintiff will finally receive her day in court.

Normally, there are two categories of sexual harassment by a co-worker in a New York workplace. The first type relates to when an employer’s promotion and other decisions are contingent upon a worker’s response to unwelcome sexual advances. In addition, an employee may be threatened with termination, demotion, or other consequences for refusing such advances. The second category is often referred to as hostile work environment harassment. A hostile work environment may result when verbal statements or physical contact unreasonably interfere with an employee’s ability to properly perform his or her job. In many cases, a hostile work environment results when a worker is intimidated or offended by co-worker behavior as was allegedly the situation in this case.

Federal anti-discrimination laws, the New York State Human Rights Law, and New York City’s anti-discrimination law prohibit employment discrimination based on sex or gender. In general, sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination despite that the applicable statutes do not specifically state so. In the past, individuals who were sexually harassed in New York have recovered financial damages for harassment by a person of the same or opposite gender.

The attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent the victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas. At Phillips & Associates, our hardworking lawyers will fight to protect your rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, do not hesitate to call our experienced attorneys at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Women Speak Out About Sexual Harassment in the Gaming Industry, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 29, 2013
Lawsuit Against Bank Alleges Gender and Pregnancy Discrimination in Violation of New York City and State Law, According to Second Circuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 23, 2013
Additional Resources:

Sexual Harassment Not Okay Even If Worker Is Mediocre, Court Thankfully Rules, by The Associated Press, Huffington Post


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