Mendez-Nouel v. Gucci America, Inc.

2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160530 (2012)

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Mendez-Nouel v. Gucci America, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160530 (2012)

  • Written by Ann Wooster, JD

Facts

Adolfo Mendez-Nouel plaintiff) worked as a sales associate in a Gucci America, Inc. (Gucci) (defendant) retail clothing store. Managerial employees (defendants) formally or informally reprimanded Mendez-Nouel about his conduct at work on at least four occasions and warned him about his rudeness to customers. Mendez-Nouel made a formal complaint to his human resources (HR) representative, claiming same-sex harassment by his immediate supervisor (defendant) and the store manager (defendant), both allegedly gay men. Mendez-Nouel claimed that the store manager had touched him inappropriately by rubbing his back twice and that his immediate supervisor had made inappropriate sexual comments about his sexual orientation as a straight man. Mendez-Nouel alleged that both managers had retaliated against him by terminating him because he failed to accept the touching or to participate in the sexually inappropriate banter. Gucci investigated Mendez-Nouel’s complaint. Mendez-Nouel began to behave in an agitated manner while at work. Coworkers complained to the HR representative that Mendez-Nouel stated that something big was going to happen and made jokes about shootings. The HR representative suspended Mendez-Nouel and conducted an investigation. Gucci decided to terminate Mendez-Nouel on the grounds of his disturbing statements. Mendez-Nouel filed an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and received a right-to-sue letter. Mendez-Nouel brought an action against Gucci for violations of Title VII, claiming that he was subjected to a hostile work environment due to his male sex and straight sexual orientation and that he was retaliated against for complaining about the hostile work environment. Gucci moved for summary judgment on the employment-discrimination and retaliation claims.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Engelmayer, J.)

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