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New York Court Finds Employer May Have Discriminated Against Employee When Firing Her Due to Spousal Jealousy

Earlier this year, a New York appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York gender discrimination case brought by a woman who claims to have been fired because she made her boss’ wife jealous. The case presented the appellate court with a unique opportunity to discuss whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action under the New York anti-discrimination statutes. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an employee at a New York City wellness center that provides massage therapy services as well as yoga classes. The owners of the center, a husband and wife, both had managerial roles in the company, with the husband being the plaintiff’s direct supervisor.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff’s relationship with the husband was “purely professional,” and he seemed happy with her work. However, at some point, the husband told the plaintiff that his wife might become jealous of her because she was “too cute.”

Four months after that exchange, the plaintiff received a text message from the wife telling the plaintiff that she was fired and she was to stay away from the center. That text message was immediately followed by an email from the husband confirming that the plaintiff was fired. Subsequently, the wife called the New York Police Department and falsely accused the plaintiff of harassment.

The plaintiff filed a New York gender discrimination lawsuit against the defendants. The trial court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, and she appealed to a higher court.

On appeal, the lower court’s decision was reversed, and the plaintiff’s claim was permitted to continue toward trial. The court first noted that employment actions based on sexual attraction are considered gender-based and fall within New York anti-discrimination statutes. The court acknowledged that there was no harassment, and the surrounding facts indicated that the plaintiff was fired based solely on the wife’s “unjustified jealousy.”

The court took a moment to explain that the result would likely have been different had the husband and the plaintiff carried on a consensual relationship. In those cases, the employee’s actions also play a role, whereas here, the plaintiff did not do anything to make the wife jealous.

Have You Been a Victim of Sex Discrimination?

If you have recently suffered some adverse employment action based on your sex or gender, you may be entitled to relief through a New York sex discrimination lawsuit. The New York anti-discrimination laws are very broad and protect employees from a wide range of inappropriate conduct. In some cases, what may not initially seem like discriminatory conduct turns out to be just that. To learn more about the New York anti-discrimination laws, call the Law Offices of Ira S. Newman at 800-206-7375 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated New York employment attorney. Calling is free, and there is no obligation or pressure to continue forward with your case.

See Additional Blog Posts:

Federal Court Determines Veteran Was Entitled to Higher Signing Bonus from Employer Upon Return from Service, New York Business Litigation Attorney Blog, November 13, 2017.

New York City Landlord Busted for Housing Discrimination, New York Business Litigation Attorney Blog, October 25, 2017.