Fired For Being Too Cute? Can You Bring A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?


The Answer is YES according to one New York State Court.

In the case of Edwards v. Nicolai, 2017 NY Slip Op 06235, the Appellate Division, First Department held that a female worker at a chiropractic office, operated by a husband and wife, could maintain a lawsuit against her employer who the worker alleged fired her because the wife thought the worker was too cute and was unjustifiably jealous of the worker’s relationship with her husband.

In Edwards, the female worker alleged that she worked at a chiropractic office co-owned by a husband and wife.  The female worker claimed she had a purely professional relationship with the husband.  However, the husband told the female worker that his wife might become jealous because the female worker was “too cute.”  A few months later, the wife sent the female worker a text message telling the female worker that she is not welcome at the chiropractic office any longer and to stay away from her husband.  A few hours later,  the female worker received an email from the husband stating she was fired.

The Court determined that the female worker could bring a lawsuit for gender discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law.  The Court stated, “Here, while plaintiff does not allege that she was ever subjected to sexual harassment . . . , she alleges facts from which it can be inferred that [the husband] was motivated to discharge her by his desire to appease his wife’s unjustified jealousy, and that the wife was motivated to discharge plaintiff by that same jealousy.  Thus, each defendant’s motivation to terminate plaintiff’s employment was sexual in nature.”

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