Friday, November 01, 2013

Terminated employee must satisfy four tests in order to establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination because of his or her age


Terminated employee must satisfy four tests in order to establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination because of his or her age
2013 NY Slip Op 06991, Appellate Division, First Department

The school principal [Principal] alleged that during the relevant period of her employment by the New York City Department of Education -- the 2010-2011 school year -- she was 54 years old and served as the principal of a school she had founded.  

Principal had received satisfactory performance reviews for two years but alleged that she had been subjected to unfair and excessive scrutiny and reprimands during the 2010 to 2011 academic year, including an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Terminated from her position in June 2011, Principal sued, contending that she had suffered unlawful discrimination because of her age. Supreme Court granted her employer's motion to dismiss Principal’s complaint as against it, which ruling was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division.

The Appellate Division said that although Principal had established three of the four elements necessary to establish a prima faciecase of age discrimination by showing that:

[1] Principal was a member of a protected class, being 54 years of age at the time of the alleged discrimination

[2] that Principal was qualified for the position by reason of having received satisfactory performance ratings during the relevant time period; and

[3] Principal had been subjected to an adverse employment action – termination;

Principal had failed to establish the fourth element required -- that she was either terminated or treated differently under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination.

While Principal argued that she was treated adversely under the State law or less well under the City Human Rights Law, the Appellate Division said that Principal did not make any concrete factual allegations in support of that claim other than that Principal was 54 years old. Such an allegation, said the court, was but “mere legal conclusions, and did not suffice to make out the [required] fourth element of [Principal's unlawful discrimination] claim."

Another element in this action concerned Principal's claim of being employed in a “hostile work environment.” However, in the words of the Appellate Division, Principal's “failure to adequately plead discriminatory animus is similarly fatal to [any] claims of hostile work environment and violation of the New York State Constitution's equal protection and antidiscrimination provisions.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_06991.htm
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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/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions 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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