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Date: 04-05-2023

Case Style:

Fortesa Qorrolli v. Metropolitan Dental Associates, D.D.S. - 225 Broadway, P.C., et al.

Case Number: 1:18-cv-06836

Judge: Denise L. Cote

Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: David Christopher Wims

Description: New York, New York civil rights lawyers represented Plaintiff who sued Defendant on a job discrimination theory involving sexual harassment.

Qorrolli filed this action on July 30, 2018, alleging that her supervisor Mario Orantes regularly sexually harassed her at work, and that the proprietor of her workplace, Dr. Paul I. Cohen, did nothing to stop the harassment, in violation of Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL. On June 10, 2021, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.

Immediately after she obtained her associate degree in dental hygiene, Qorrolli began her employment as a dental hygienist at Metropolitan Dental Associates, D.D.S. - 225 Broadway, P.C. and Metropolitan Dental Associates, D.D.S., P.C. (together “MDA”). She worked there from December of 2009 until May of 2016, when she left her job. During Qorrolli's employment, Orantes worked as MDA's office manager, supervising Qorrolli as well as most other MDA employees. Dr. Paul I. Cohen owned MDA, which had four locations at the time of Qorrolli's employment. Qorrolli worked at MDA's main office at 225 Broadway.

Qorrolli also testified that Orantes sexually harassed her. She admitted that he never asked her out or explicitly propositioned her, but described with specificity two instances in which he touched her. In one incident, Orantes met Qorrolli in an elevator as she was returning from the gym. He touched her butt and commented on its firmness. In another incident, after reprimanding Qorrolli in front of Dr. Cohen, Orantes took Qorrolli into a private room. He hugged her, wiped her tears, and kissed her cheek. Qorrolli testified that Orantes would frequently engage in this kind of conduct after reprimanding her in front of Dr. Cohen. She also testified that Orantes would frequently make comments about her appearance or her body. Qorrolli testified that she felt pressured to accept his conduct. The plaintiff's mother, who also worked at MDA, testified that she saw Orantes touching and grabbing the plaintiff.

Qorrolli testified that she told Dr. Cohen multiple times that Orantes was sexually harassing her, but that Dr. Cohen refused to do anything about the harassment. On one occasion, Dr. Cohen responded to Qorrolli's complaints by telling her that she was “fucking crazy.” At the time of Qorrolli's employment, MDA did not have any written sexual harassment policy or employee handbook.

Qorrolli also witnessed events around the office that caused her to believe that Orantes was sexually harassing or otherwise sexually involved with other employees. Qorrolli would often see Orantes pull a female employee into a room and close the door behind them, from which she inferred that Orantes was sexually harassing or having sex with the employee. Qorrolli also saw Orantes rub himself against another employee with his groin and make crude comments about her appearance. And one occasion, Qorrolli walked in on Orantes and another employee holding each other close, with the employee's jacket down around her shoulders and lipstick smudged on her face.

During cross-examination, defense counsel asked the plaintiff about a letter she had personally delivered to Dr. Cohen complaining about her working conditions. The plaintiff acknowledged that she did not mention any sexual harassment in the letter. When asked why, the plaintiff explained that her lawyers had told her not to mention it because it could expose her to a defamation lawsuit.

Outcome: Jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff for an unknown sum.

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