Lewis v. Erie County Medical Center


New York Law Journal


District Judge John Curtin

Lewis, an HIV-positive black woman, is a social worker at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC). Open about her HIV status, Lewis received care herself at ECMC. Walsh became Lewis' supervisor within six months after her 1997 hiring. District court granted ECMC summary judgment dismissing Lewis' lawsuit—asserting 16 causes of action—alleging disability and race-based discrimination, a hostile work environment, harassment and retaliation violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the New York State Human Rights Law. In rejecting Lewis' disparate treatment claims, the court observed that despite being a member of a protected class any adverse employment actions Lewis suffered were de minimis. Not only was Lewis never terminated, but she was never demoted nor denied a promotion. She also admitted that any loss of benefits and/or salary were insignificant. Despite finding Walsh at best a poor manager or, at worst, an abusive tyrant, the court rejected Lewis' hostile work environment claims. It noted that although the work environment could be described as "hostile" there was little record evidence that any hostility was directed at Lewis based on her race or disability.

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