Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The anatomy of a discrimination action


The anatomy of a discrimination action
Clarke v Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 2017 NY Slip Op 04421, Appellate Division, Second Department

In processing an employment discrimination claim "A plaintiff alleging discrimination in employment has the initial burden to establish . . . that (1) he or she is a member of a protected class; (2) he or she was qualified to hold the position; (3) he or she was terminated from employment or suffered another adverse employment action; and (4) the discharge or other adverse action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination"

If the individual makes such a prima facie showing, the burden of going forward shifts to the employer "to rebut the presumption of discrimination by clearly setting forth, through the introduction of admissible evidence, legitimate, independent, and nondiscriminatory reasons to support its employment decision."

The burden of going forward then shifts back to the plaintiff "to establish every element of intentional discrimination, and if the employer had advanced a "legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the challenged actions," to show that the employer's explanation or explanations were pretextual.

In this action seeking to recover damages for alleged employment discrimination Supreme Court, granted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's [MTA] motion for summary judgment dismissing Edmond Clarke's causes of action alleging employment discrimination on the basis of age and sex, and hostile work environment.
The Appellate Division, in response to Clark's appeal challenging the Supreme Court's ruling, affirmed the lower court's determination.

The Appellate Division explained that in this instance MTA was, prima facie, entitled to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the cause of action alleging employment discrimination on the basis of age and sex by offering legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the challenged actions and demonstrating the absence of material issues of fact as to whether their explanations were pretextual.

A hostile work environment exists where the workplace is "permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment." However, said the court, "Various factors, such as frequency and severity of the discrimination, whether the allegedly discriminatory actions were threatening or humiliating or a "mere offensive utterance," and whether the alleged actions "unreasonably interfere[ ] with an employee's work" are to be considered in determining whether a hostile work environment exists."

Further, noted the Appellate Division, "The allegedly abusive conduct must not only have altered the conditions of employment of the employee, who subjectively viewed the actions as abusive, but the actions must have created an "objectively hostile or abusive environment—one that a reasonable person would find to be so."

MTA, said the court, "established [its] prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the cause of action alleging the existence of a hostile work environment by demonstrating that the conduct and remarks about which Clark complained were not sufficiently severe or pervasive as to permeate the workplace and alter the conditions of his employment at MTA.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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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