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Fashion king Giorgio Armani will not have to defend himself against an employment discrimination claim brought by a former executive. Granting a motion to reconsider, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found that Armani’s “offensive utterances” directed at executive Bonnie Solomon did not “rise to the level of severity needed for an actionable claim.” Wood’s decision in Solomon v. Giorgio Armani Corp., 99 Civ. 1838, comes just three months after she had ruled that not all of the claims brought by Solomon were time-barred — and that Armani could be held personally liable for sexual harassment. In 1999, Solomon had been director of advertising at Giorgio Armani Corp. for about one year when she was fired, she said, because she was a woman. In an action brought under Title VII and New York’s Human Rights Law, Solomon charged that she had suffered through a hostile work environment that included Armani calling her, among other things “a difficult whore.” In September, Judge Wood declined to grant summary judgment for Armani, finding that Solomon’s allegations that she had been subjected to “constant humiliation” while working at the company were sufficient. But even in that ruling, the judge said that Solomon would have a “significant burden” of proving her case at trial because, apart from certain actions by Armani and another high-level executive with the company, Solomon had conceded that the work environment was “not hostile.” CASE WEAKENED BY REMOVAL OF TIME-BARRED INCIDENTS In her decision on the motion to reconsider, Wood said that even a number of incidents of alleged harassment that she had ruled in September could be used at trial were, in fact, time-barred. The judge then acknowledged that she “should not have considered plaintiff’s conclusory allegations of constant harassment.” “Removing the time-barred incidents weakens plaintiff’s Title VII claims further,” she said. Solomon had claimed that Armani was prone to “ranting and raving,” making sexually maligning remarks and blaming her assignment problems on her gender. At one meeting, he allegedly hit her with a paper mailer, taunted her and kissed her. “Although the incidents portray boorish and inappropriate behavior, and certain incidents could suggest harassment, such evidence alone is insufficient to demonstrate an actionable discrimination claim,” Wood said. Solomon, the judge said, did not allege that the conduct was so pervasive as to be actionable. The court noted that Solomon had contact with Armani “only a few times over the course of her employment.” Wood went on to grant the defendants summary judgment and dismissed the remainder of Solomon’s Title VII claims either as time-barred or as not amounting to a hostile work environment. She also granted summary judgment on her remaining claims under New York Human Rights Law. Frances Maloney and Traycee Klein of New York’s Epstein Becker & Green represented Giorgio Armani Corp. Nehemiah S. Glanc, a sole practitioner in Manhattan, represented Solomon.

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