holding that individuals can be held liable under the Human Rights LawSummary of this case from Doe v. City of New York
January 16, 1996
Appeal from the Supreme Court, New York County (Elliott Wilk, J.).
We agree with the IAS Court that the letter defendant wrote to the general manager of his employer complaining about plaintiff's racism in relation to his employment, and expressing outrage, humiliation, pain, and the hope that the recipient of the letter would correct these "ongoing injustices", are nonactionable expressions of opinion ( see, Polish Am. Immigration Relief Comm. v Relax, 189 A.D.2d 370; Parks v Steinbrenner, 131 A.D.2d 60). Defendant's counterclaims alleging that the instant action was instigated by defendant's employer in retaliation for the complaint defendant filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and seeking to hold plaintiffs individually liable as aiders and abettors of such retaliation under Executive Law § 296 (6), have support in our recent case law holding that "an individual may be held liable for aiding discriminatory conduct" ( Peck v Sony Music Corp., 221 A.D.2d 157; see also, Tomka v Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1317 [2d Cir 1995]). Our prior affirmance of an order dismissing counterclaims alleging similar facts did not assert that the liability of the individual plaintiffs was being predicated upon an aiding and abetting theory ( 203 A.D.2d 92). The amended counterclaims do clearly set forth the required element of aiding and abetting the employer's retaliatory act of instigating this lawsuit.
Concur — Ellerin, J.P., Ross, Nardelli, Williams and Mazzarelli, JJ.