Title VII Hostile Work Environment Claims Proceed on Sexual Orientation Discrimination


A New York employee who worked for the NYS Insurance Fund for many years allegedly experienced discrimination and a hostile work environment based on the fact that he was gay and had a disability.  The employee complained of discrimination and alleged that following his complaints he was retaliated against.  On remand from the Second Circuit, the district court dismissed the employee’s Title VII discrimination claims because he failed to allege that he suffered an adverse employment action based on his sexual orientation. 

The court found that although he alleged another employee emailed false negative information about him to his supervisor, he failed to demonstrate that the email contained any information about his sexual orientation. 

His hostile work environment claims, however, will proceed.  The court found his allegations that he received unwanted emails that contained sexual pictures of men and gay men compelling.  The court disagreed with defendants that the incidents did not rise to the level of severity required to establish a hostile work environment claim.  This decision follows the Supreme Court’s decision in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., which held that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited by Title VII. 

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