Race Discrimination Claim “Narrowly” Survives Summary Judgment

From White v. Town of Huntington, 14-CV-7370, 2018 WL 5624148 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 30, 2018):

[P]laintiff claims that, in certain instances, his qualifications exceeded those of non-minority applicants who successfully obtained the subject positions. As the Second Circuit has held:
*5 When a plaintiff seeks to prevent summary judgment on the strength of a discrepancy in qualifications ignored by an employer, that discrepancy must bear the entire burden of allowing a reasonable trier of fact to not only conclude the employer’s explanation was pretextual, but that the pretext served to mask unlawful discrimination. In effect, the plaintiff’s credentials would have to be so superior to the credentials of the person selected for the job that “no reasonable person, in the exercise of impartial judgment, could have chosen the candidate selected over the plaintiff for the job in question.” Deines v. Tex. Dep’t of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 164 F.3d 277, 280-81 (5th Cir. 1999); see also Fischbach, 86 F.3d at 1183 (“Title VII liability cannot rest solely upon a judge’s determination that an employer misjudged the relative qualifications of admittedly qualified candidates.”).

Byrnie v. Town of Cromwell, Bd. of Educ., 243 F.3d 93, 103 (2d Cir. 2001). Based on this, and similar cases, defendants urge the Court to grant summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff cannot meet his burden at various junctures.

If the facts were limited to an issue of comparative qualifications, defendants would prevail under the standard set forth in Byrnie. However, plaintiff cites evidence regarding other aspects of the hiring process for several jobs, including the failure to interview plaintiff for positions for which he was plainly qualified and the purported creations of an artificial review process to cloud plaintiff’s record. See generally DE 69, Section D; see also id. at ¶¶ 44–50. While the Court has no view on whether such assertions are correct, given the fact that the evidence must be view most favorably toward the non-movant, on this record, plaintiff has proffered sufficient evidence to narrowly survive summary judgment on this issue.