Greenberg Traurig, LLP, New York (Wendy Johnson Lario of
counsel), for appellant.
Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP, New York (Brian Heller of
counsel), for respondent.
J.P., Friedman, Mazzarelli, Kapnick, Kahn, JJ.
Supreme Court, Bronx County (Sharon A.M. Aarons, J.), entered
on or about January 12, 2016, awarding plaintiff the total
amount of $1, 555, 104.46, upon her stipulation to the
reduced back and front pay awards, unanimously affirmed,
without costs. Appeal from order, same court and Justice,
entered on or about December 29, 2015, which granted
defendant's motion to set aside or reduce the jury
verdict, only to the extent of ordering a new trial on
damages for future pain and suffering unless plaintiff
stipulated to a reduced award for back and front pay,
unanimously dismissed, without costs, as subsumed in the
appeal from the judgment.
was a supervisor employed by defendant. The evidence adduced
at trial showed that one of plaintiff's fellow
supervisors ruthlessly harassed her, both on the job and
outside of work hours. The supervisor repeatedly made gross
and highly offensive sexually-charged remarks to plaintiff,
including in front of plaintiff's subordinates, causing
them to lose respect for plaintiff and fueling rumors about
her proclivity to engage in workplace affairs. The supervisor
called her and followed her around after work, forcing her to
give him rides and otherwise communicate with him, on pain of
threats of losing her job.
evidence further showed that plaintiff was the subject of
widespread and unfounded workplace rumors that she was having
affairs with multiple coworkers, and that, in this lax
environment, her subordinates made crude and offensive
remarks to each other and in plaintiff's presence.
foregoing evidence supports the jury's finding that
defendant engaged in gender discrimination in violation of
the New York City Human Rights Law (City HRL) (see
Gonzalez v EVG, Inc., 123 A.D.3d 486, 487 [1st Dept
2014]; see also Walsh v Covenant House, 244 A.D.2d
214, 215 [1st Dept 1997]).
evidence also showed that plaintiff complained about the
supervisor's conduct and the rumors to several more
senior supervisors in March 2006, as well as in December 2006
to a Human Resources (HR) manager, who responded with a
formal (albeit ineffectual) investigation. Defendant
responded to the March 2006 complaints by transferring
plaintiff to a facility known as the Remote, which was an
undesirable assignment. Defendant responded to the December
2006 complaint to HR by repeatedly transferring plaintiff,
ending in her March 2007 transfer to a facility near the
World Trade Center, run by a supervisor who was the mentor of
the supervisor who had harassed plaintiff, and who was openly
hostile to plaintiff, which led to a series of write-ups and
plaintiff's termination. The foregoing evidence amply
established plaintiff's prima facie cause of action for
retaliation (see Cadet-Legros v New York Univ. Hosp.
Ctr., 135 A.D.3d 196, 206 [1st Dept 2015]).
extent any objection was preserved, the trial court
providently exercised its discretion in the challenged
evidentiary rulings, including the exclusion of evidence of
plaintiff's posttermination romantic relationship with
one of her former subordinates (see Wolak v Spucci,
217 F.3d 157, 160-161 [2d Cir 2000]).
compensatory damages award of $300, 000 and the stipulated
economic damages awards of $307, 750 in back pay and $300,
000 in front pay did not materially deviate from what would
constitute reasonable compensation for like claims (see
e.g. Belton v Lal Chicken, Inc., 138 A.D.3d 609, 611
[1st Dept 2016] [$300, 000 for emotional distress];
Williams v City of New York, 105 A.D.3d 667, 667-668
[1st Dept 2013] [$225, 000 for future lost earnings];
Madtes v 809A 8th Ave. Rest., 184 A.D.2d 326');">184 A.D.2d 326 [1st
Dept 1992] [$300, 000 for future loss of income], lv
denied 81 N.Y.2d 702');">81 N.Y.2d 702 ).
punitive damages award of $300, 000 was not grossly
excessive, particularly given defendant's substantial
income, and when compared with punitive damages awards for
similar claims under the City HRL (see Salemi v
Gloria's Tribeca Inc., 115 A.D.3d 569, 569, 570 [1st
Dept 2014] [$1.2 million]; McIntyre v Manhattan Ford,
Lincoln-Mercury, 256 A.D.2d 269, 269, 271 [1st Dept
1998] [$1.5 ...