September 29, 2016

Rescinding an offer of employment after employee failed to complete necessary routine paperwork does not constitute “unlawful retaliation”

Rescinding an offer of employment after employee failed to complete necessary routine paperwork does not constitute “unlawful retaliation”
Ruderman v City of New York, 2016 NY Slip Op 06148, Appellate Division, First Department

An order of Supreme Court granting the motion of the City of New Yorkto dismiss Irving Ruderman complaint alleging “retaliation” was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division, which noted that although the Supreme Court’s order did not expressly address Ruderman’s retaliation claim, it unambiguously granted New York City’s motion to dismiss in its entirety.

In order to establish a prima facie case of retaliation, the individual is required to show that:

(1) he or she had engaged in protected activity,

(2) his or her employer was aware that he or she participated in such activity,

(3) he or she suffered an adverse employment action based upon his or her activity, and

(4) there is "a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse [personnel] action" alleged to have suffered by the individual.

The Appellate Division explained Ruderman’s retaliation claims brought pursuant to Federal and State Civil Rights Law and under the New York City Human Rights Law was properly dismissed by Supreme Court because Ruderman's complaint failed to provide a basis for a reasonable jury to conclude that the job offer that was extended to him was rescinded because of his inquiry he had sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC].

The court noted that there was no dispute that the job offer made to Ruderman was re-confirmed “even after City of New York employees were aware of the inquiry” Ruderman had submitted to EEOC.

Nor, said the Appellate Division, was there any dispute that Ruderman failed to complete the required routine paperwork related to his employment. Indeed, said the court, Ruderman was advised that his failure to complete this paperwork might result in his not being appointed to the position that was offered. Notwithstanding this warning, Ruderman did not complete the paperwork.

With respect to Ruderman's allegations of unlawful retaliation, the Appellate Division ruled that he failed to allege facts sufficient to demonstrate any causal connection between his not being appointed to the position and his having made an “EEOC inquiry.” 

In addition, said the court, the reason given by the City for rescinding its job offer -- Ruderman's failure to complete the required paperwork -- did not constitute a pretext for unlawful retaliation in violation of the relevant Federal, State or City discrimination laws.

As the United States Court of Appeals for the 5thCircuit held in Wallace v Methodist Hospital System, 271 F.3d 212, where the employer has presented a lawful reason to rebut an individual’s prima facie evidence of unlawful discrimination, the burden shifts to the charging party to “present facts to rebut each and every legitimate non-discriminatory reason advanced by [the employer] in order to survive [a motion for] summary judgment” submitted to the court by the employer. Implicit in this ruling: if but one of the explanations offered by an employer in defending itself against allegations of unlawful discrimination survives, the employer will prevail.

The decision is posted on the Internet at: