April 11, 2022

A disciplinary letter, without more, may not be sufficient to support an allegation of discriminatory or retaliatory misconduct

Citing Mejia v Roosevelt Is. Med. Assoc., 95 AD3d 570, [leave to appeal dismissed, 20 NY3d 1045], the Appellate Division opined that a disciplinary letter targeting an employee [Plaintiff], without more, "is not enough to constitute actionable discriminatory or retaliatory conduct" as the complaints about Plaintiff did not result in any change in the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's employment nor otherwise "disadvantage" him as otherwise required under the relevant Human Rights Law.

Further, said the court, the alleged discrimination claims should not have been allowed to proceed as the employer "proffered evidence supporting several legitimate reasons for demoting [Plaintiff] from his provisional managerial position" and Plaintiff "failed to come forward with any evidence raising an issue of fact as to whether these reasons were mere pretext for discrimination ... or whether discrimination was one of the motivating factors for the demotion."

In contrast, the Appellate Division found that Plaintiff's hostile work environment claims were correctly allowed to proceed. The court explained that although most of the incidents of which Plaintiff complained were relatively minor, "repeated mocking of Plaintiff's accent and pretending not to understand him, if true, could affect Plaintiff's ability to do his job and create an abusive working environment."

Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision.

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