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Court Permits Sexual Harassment Claim in New York City to Proceed to a Jury Trial

Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, has held that a female bus driver for the NCYTA can present her sexual harassment claims to a jury. The plaintiff, Felicia Bowen, alleges that her supervisor, Howard Cintrinbaum, among other things, licked his lips while looking at her, told her that they should "do it" and, when she refused to turn off her bus, reached over to do so himself, touching her breasts.

The company's attorney sought to minimize Cintrinbaum's conduct, claiming that looking the plaintiff up and down while licking his lips was "a neutral act. The company asked the court to deny Bowen the right to let a jury decide whether these acts amount to unlawful sexual harassment.

The court rejected the company's argument and denied the motion, holding, "Lewd gestures and looks may alone be sufficient to create an atmosphere of sexual hostility. Here, those remarks and gestures were compounded by offensive touching."

This case, Bowen v. MTA New York City Transit Authority, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136531 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2011), expands the protections that employees possess in the workplace, ensuring that women will not have to endure "lewd gestures and looks" as part of their job.

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