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August 2017

New York Team Obtains Summary Judgment In Federal Discrimination Case

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani lead partner Mercedes Colwin, senior counsel Kuuku Minnah-Donkoh, and associate Sandra Jimenez obtained summary judgment on behalf of their client, a globally-recognized, prominent university, against a plaintiff alleging claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The plaintiff, a former employee, alleged that her employer had failed to effectively remedy or prevent harassment and intimidation in the form of internet impersonation and spam mail during the course of her employment. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that her employer engaged in continuous acts of retaliation against her, which commenced after she filed a complaint of harassment with the New York City Police Department. The plaintiff was ultimately terminated from her position; however, her termination resulted after she engaged in threatening and intimidating behavior towards a colleague who was listed as a potential witness in the litigation.

In their motion for summary judgment, Gordon & Rees attorneys argued that the university took immediate action to investigate the plaintiff’s complaint of internet impersonation and spamming, instituted measures to prevent plaintiff from continuing to receive spam mail, and conducted an extensive investigation into the plaintiff’s accusations against the suspected perpetrators. In addition, the attorneys argued that none of the incidents the plaintiff alleged were retaliatory qualified as a cognizable adverse employment action, with the exception of her termination which was justified given the plaintiff’s egregious conduct.

In entering summary judgment in favor of the client, the court accepted Gordon & Rees’s arguments, finding that the university took reasonable steps to remedy the alleged harassment. The court also concluded that the plaintiff had failed to present any evidence suggestive of retaliatory motivation for her termination.

Mercedes Colwin
Kuuku Minnah-Donkoh