A New York woman is claiming in a federal lawsuit that her former employer fired her when she rejected the company owner’s ongoing romantic and sexual advances. Kology v. My Space NYC Corp., et al, No. 1:15-cv-03061, complaint (E.D.N.Y., May 27, 2015). The plaintiff worked for the defendant, a real estate firm, for more than five years when, she claimed, she was suddenly terminated by the owner. She is asserting causes of action for sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).
The defendant operates a real estate firm that focuses on high-end Brooklyn neighborhoods. According to her complaint, the plaintiff began working there in April 2009, and was promoted to management after about one year. She worked directly with the company owner, who is also named as a defendant, for much of the time she was employed by the company. She describes the owner as a “mentor” during her first few years of employment, Kology, complaint at 4, claiming that he expressed a desire to help her build her career, and that he helped her obtain her first investment property.
The plaintiff alleges that the owner’s behavior towards her began to change in about July 2013, when he began making overt romantic overtures. He also allegedly made direct comments about problems in her marriage, at a time when her husband also worked for the defendant. She claims that the behavior escalated, including daily comments on her clothing and appearance, offering to “make [her] a rich woman” if she would “choose” him, id. at 5, and eventually attempting to kiss her without her consent. He was also, she claims, trying to recruit her to play a larger role in the growth of the company.
The owner allegedly became more distant and critical of her work, including frequent complaints about her “lack of enthusiasm,” id. at 7, after he began a relationship with another employee. This employee also began treating the plaintiff in a hostile manner, she claims. On August 15, 2014, the defendant allegedly fired the plaintiff by telling her, “[i]t isn’t working out,” and allegedly followed this with a hug and a statement that he “wanted to smell [her] one last time.” Id. at 9.
The complaint asserts ten causes of action in total, including several claims brought under more than one statute:
– Sex discrimination, in the form of sexual harassment, under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a), the NYSHRL, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(1)(a), and the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a);
– Retaliation under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), the NYSHRL, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(7), and the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(e);
– Interference with protected rights under the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(19);
– Aiding and abetting violations of the NYSHRL, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(6), and the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(6); and
– Employer liability for an employee’s discriminatory conduct under the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(13).
The sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates help employees, former employees, and job seekers in New York City assert claims under city, state, and federal employment law. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced and dedicated advocate for employee rights, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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