Cortazar v. Staples The Office Superstore
To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) she belonged to a protected class; 2.) she was qualified; and 3.) she suffered an adverse employment action in circumstances that led to an inference of discrimination. The defendant, Staples, hired the plaintiff employee, Claudia Cortazar. Cortazar alleged that her supervisor, Christopher Zottoli, massaged her shoulders and neck and said, "My ass is itchy, can you scratch it?" and referred to Cortazar's "big boobs" and "big ass." Cortazar allegedly complained to the assistant manager. Allegedly, Zottoli grabbed Cortazar and pulled her close, informed her that he had seen naked pictures of her and ordered her to expose her breasts. The assistant manager accused Cortazar of taking a customer's cell out of the store, and Cortazar was discharged. Cortazar filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which released its jurisdiction. Cortazar sued, and the defendants moved to strike the plaintiff's gender discrimination count. "[T]he nature of the alleged wrongful conduct," wrote the court, "is such that it could only have been directed toward a female employee." The court denied the defendants' motion to strike the gender discrimination count. The court granted the motion to strike the plaintiff's claim that the defendants violated Connecticut General Statutes §46a-58, which provides that sex discrimination can qualify as a Class A misdemeanor. C.G.S. §46a-58 statute does not permit a private cause of action. The plaintiff's complaint adequately alleged extreme and outrageous conduct, and the court denied the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress count.