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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alteration of an employee’s duties and responsibilities standing alone not sufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination within the meaning of the Human Rights Law


Alteration of an employee’s duties and responsibilities standing alone not sufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination within the meaning of the Human Rights Law

After a “literacy coach” was reassigned to a classroom teacher position, the employee filed a complaint alleging the reassignment constituted an unlawful adverse employment action. The Appellate Division disagreed, concluding that none of the employment actions complained of by the employee rose to the level of an adverse employment action.

The court said that the transfer from the position of literacy coach to a classroom teacher was "merely an alteration of [the educator's] responsibilities" and not an adverse employment action, pointing out that apart from a change in the nature of her duties, the individual "retained the terms and conditions of her employment, and her salary remained the same."

As to the teacher’s allegation that she was the victim of unlawful discriminated after her transfer back to the classroom teaching position because she was subjected to ”a relentless stream of reprimands,” the Appellate Division ruled that this was not sufficient to establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination. The court noted that “Notwithstanding the frequent reprimands, the teacher received a satisfactory end-of-year performance rating and none of the reprimands resulted in any reduction in pay or privileges."

Addressing the teacher’s complaint of unlawful discrimination based an alleged failure of the employer “to reasonably accommodate her disabling condition,” the court said that the teacher “concedes that [the employer] provided her with a ‘satisfactory’ accommodation in the form of moving her classroom from the fourth to the second floor, with ‘no escort duty.’"

Finally, the Appellate Division said that the teacher had failed to show that her "workplace was permeated with ‘discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult’ that [was] sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of' employment, so as to make out a claim for hostile work environment.”

Finding that the employee's allegations of unlawful discrimination was properly dismissed as none of the employer’s actions complained of constituted an adverse employment action, the Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court’s order granting the City’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2012/2012_03935.htm

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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