A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a hostile work environment lawsuit filed by a former New York City Housing Authority housing manager who claimed her employment problems began when a former speaker of the New York City Council demanded that her unit hire a Spanish-speaking manager.
Allison Williams, who is African-American, worked for NYCHA from 1984 until she retired in 2017, according to the ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in Allison Williams v. New York City Housing Authority et al.
After rising through the ranks over two decades, she became director of housing for Mill Brook Houses in the Bronx in 2006, the ruling said.
In 2015, Melissa Mark-Viverito, then Speaker of the New York City Council, requested a meeting with NYCHA where she allegedly demanded a Spanish–speaking manager is employed at the facility. After that meeting, ultimately unsuccessful attempts were made to have Ms. Williams transferred, according to the decision.
Williams alleged that her supervisor then tried to sabotage her work, including by deliberately neglecting to replace four assistants.
Mrs. Williams resigned in May 2017 and then filed a lawsuit in US District Court in New York, accusing the housing authority, Ms. Mark-Viverito and other officers for creating a hostile work environment.
The district court dismissed the case, which was reopened by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.
At summary judgment, “a district court must give credit to all factual inferences that could rationally be drawn in Williams’ favor, and the court failed to do so,” the ruling said.
“Williams raised several triable issues of material fact and, as such, summary judgment was inappropriate,” the panel said in remanding the case and remanding it for further proceedings.
Ms Williams’ lawyer said he was satisfied with the verdict, while other lawyers did not respond or could not be reached.