U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Redd v. NYS Division of Parole
Judges Kearse, Walker and Raggi
Background: The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of her complaint alleging disparate treatment on the basis of race and gender, retaliation and sexual harassment by the defendant, her employer. The court had dismissed the complaint on the ground that the alleged touching of the plaintiff’s breasts by a female supervisor were minor and incidental, were episodic, may have been accidental, and did not occur because of the plaintiff’s sex. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the supervisor’s touchings were sufficiently abusive to support her hostile work environment claim.
Ruling: The Second Circuit reversed. The Second Circuit held that it was inappropriate for the court to resolve factual issues and that the evaluation of ambiguous acts is a task for the jury. With respect to a hostile work environment claim, there must be pervasive acts that create an abusive working environment. The record showed that there were a number of incidents that could lead a reasonable jury to infer sexual harassment.
Maia Goodell of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard for the plaintiff-appellant; Laura R. Johnson of the New York State Office of the Attorney General for the defendant-appellee