The Second Department affirmed the dismissal of a complaint alleging that defendant Prison Health Service (PHS) retaliated against the plaintiff after she made a sexual harassment complaint. The retaliation was alleged to have violated the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Plaintiff claimed she was subjected to excessive demands for her professional credentials and health clearance forms and the denial of overtime work. In explaining the proof requirements, the Second Department wrote:
…”In assessing retaliation claims that involve neither ultimate actions nor materially adverse changes in terms and conditions of employment, it is important that the assessment be made with a keen sense of workplace realities, of the fact that the chilling effect’ of particular conduct is context-dependent, and of the fact that a jury is generally best suited to evaluate the impact of retaliatory conduct in light of those realities” … .
… [T]o make out an unlawful retaliation claim under the NYCHRL, a plaintiff must show that (1) he or she engaged in a protected activity as that term is defined under the NYCHRL, (2) his or her employer was aware that he or she participated in such activity, (3) his or her employer engaged in conduct which was reasonably likely to deter a person from engaging in that protected activity, and (4) there is a causal connection between the protected activity and the alleged retaliatory conduct (see Administrative Code of City of NY § 8-107…). Once the plaintiff has met this initial burden, the burden then shifts to the defendant to present legitimate, independent, and nondiscriminatory reasons to support its actions … . Then, if the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff has the obligation to show that the reasons put forth by the defendant were merely a pretext… . Brightman v Prison Health Serv Inc, 2013 NY Slip Op 05510, 2nd Dept 7-31-13