November 18, 2020

Court dismisses Article 78 petition for failure to allege acts of employment discrimination in violation of New York State's or New York City's Human Rights Laws

A CPLR Article 78 petition alleging unlawful discrimination filed by the petitioner [Plaintiff] alleged that Plaintiff 's employment with the New York City Department of Correction [Correction] was terminated because of his alleged disabilities due to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cancer.

Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff 's Article 78 action "for failure to state a cause of action for employment discrimination under the State or City [Human Rights Laws]." The court observed that Plaintiff's Article 78 petition "does not contain any factual allegations showing that [Plaintiff 's] employment was terminated under circumstances giving rise to an inference of [unlawful] discrimination." Plaintiff appealed the Supreme Court's decision.

The Appellate Division said that assuming Correction knew of Plaintiff 's asthma and COPD, it promoted Plaintiff twice although he suffered from those medical conditions at the time. Although Plaintiff contends that he was subsequently demoted, his complaint does not state why he was demoted or allege that he was demoted because of his medical conditions.*

The complaint states that Plaintiff took an approved medical leave of absence for treatment of his cancer and that he was discharged about 10 months after his leave started and 8 months after he returned to duty.

The Appellate Division opined that this passage of time "is too long to establish any causal connection between any decisionmaker's knowledge of his cancer or medical leave and [Plaintiff 's] discharge to raise an inference of discrimination." Further, said the court, Plaintiff's complaint "does not allege that any decisionmakers made remarks that showed any discriminatory intent" nor does his petition allege facts that would establish that similarly situated persons who did not share his alleged disabilities were treated more favorably than he was.

Although Plaintiff was not required to plead facts that would establish that similarly situated persons who did not share his alleged disabilities were treated more favorably than he was to state a claim of unlawful discrimination, Plaintiff's complaint does not allege any other facts that establish circumstances  giving rise to an inference of discriminatory intent.

According, said the Appellate Division, Supreme Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's Article 78 petition was proper.

* The Appellate Division noted that Plaintiff 's demotion predated his cancer diagnosis.

The decision is posted on the Internet at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_06700.htm.

 

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