Santos v. Brookdale Hospital Medical Center

NYLJ, Oct. 19, 2010 (Supreme Ct., Kings Co., September 17, 2010) Click Here for Article N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Mark I. Partnow rejected a motion to dismiss a same-sex hostile environment sexual harassment brought by a former employee of a subcontractor who worked one day a week at the defendant hospital. The male plaintiff alleged that a male employee of the hospital who had supervisory authority over the plaintiff had subjected him to harassing conduct of a sexual nature, including “leering” at him and making some sexual propositions. In its motion to dismiss, the defendant argued that it was not the plaintiff’s employer and that the conduct alleged was neither sufficient severe nor pervasive to meet the legal requirement for a finding of hostile environment sexual harassment. The court noted that the standard for hostile environment under the NYC Human Rights Law is not as demanding as the standard under federal or state law, and that the plaintiff’s allegations would suffice to survive a motion to dismiss, where there were disputed factual issues over whether the hospital and the contractor could be considered joint employers. A.S.L Arguing they were never his employer, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff Santos’ complaint. Santos was employed by Diaspora, providing community outreach services at defendant Brookdale Hospital. A Brookdale employee, defendant Carmody-Trant, was plaintiff’s supervisor. Santos claimed Carmody-Trant sexually harassed him and complained to Diaspora. Defendants argued plaintiff never advised Brookdale of the harassment, and contended the “handful of isolated incidents” alleged were insufficient to state a claim for hostile work environment. Plaintiff contended that as Brookdale supervised all aspects of his work while there, it was his “joint employer” and may be held liable for the misconduct. Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to plaintiff, the court found Santos sufficiently set forth a sexual harassment claim. It noted the complaint alleged how Carmody-Trant’s “leers and comments were ‘ongoing and pervasive’ for seven months.” The court said plaintiff relied on Carmody-Trant’s alleged “supervisory authority” over him for his contention that Diaspora and Brookdale were “joint employer.” Thus, plaintiff set forth viable claims of a hostile work environment and dismissal was denied.

By Bryan Arcé | Published July 27, 2014

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