Physical threats that a female employee received from her male supervisor couldn’t be disregarded as “gender neutral” for the purpose of her hostile work environment claim, the 2nd Circuit has ruled in reversing a dismissal.
The plaintiff sued her former employer for hostile work environment under Title VII.
She alleged that her supervisor made sexually suggestive comments to her when his marriage began to break up.
When the plaintiff rebuffed his advances and started to complain about his conduct, the supervisor allegedly said he wanted to “choke” her and see her in a “coffin.”
In arguing that the supervisor’s conduct was not sufficiently severe and pervasive enough to state a hostile environment claim, the employer contended that the alleged physical threats against the plaintiff were gender neutral and therefore did not constitute evidence of sex discrimination. The Second Circuit disagreed.
It said that the district court “should not have excluded from consideration [the plaintiff’s] testimony as to [the supervisor’s] stated desires to choke her, see her in a coffin, and to kill her. According to [the plaintiff’s] testimony … the threats were uttered by one who ‘had designs on’ [the plaintiff] and who was miffed that she would not ‘fall for his advances.’ A rational juror could conclude that [the supervisor’s] harsh treatment of [the plaintiff] was the result of his spurned advances.”
Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp., No. 09-1859-cv. June 29.