KM&M Wins Summary Judgment on Behalf of Alleged "Joint Employer"
In March 2000, our client (a leading entertainment conglomerate) was among several defendants sued in federal court in New York by the former employee of a company providing security services to our client. The complaint alleged that, while on assignment at our client's premises, the plaintiff was sexually harassed by a fellow employee of the security company. She further alleged that she was unlawfully discharged after she reported the alleged harassment to her employer, and that KM&M's client was liable as a "joint employer" under Title VII and under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws. Plaintiff also claimed that our client was liable under state and city law for "aiding and abetting" discrimination and retaliation.
The Court initially directed the parties to engage in discovery limited to the sole issue of whether our client was a "joint employer" with the security company Plaintiff worked for, such that our client could be held liable for the security company's allegedly unlawful acts under Title VII and the analogous state and city laws. At the close of the limited discovery period, Plaintiff withdrew voluntarily most of her claims against our client, including her joint employer claims. However, Plaintiff refused to withdraw her "aiding and abetting" claims under state and city law, and we filed a motion for summary judgment on those claims.
In essence, we argued in support of our motion for summary judgment that our client had nothing to do with the sexual harassment the plaintiff claimed to have suffered, nor was our client directly involved in the security company's investigation of that harassment, or the security's company's subsequent decision to terminate the plaintiff's employment.
By decision dated February 23, 2001, the Court granted our motion and dismissed the case against our client. Specifically, the Court concluded that there was no evidence our client was actually involved in any discriminatory or retaliatory conduct, and therefore could not be held liable for aiding and abetting.