Pretext Shown; Race Discrimination Case Resurrected From Summary Judgment

In Moza v. NYC Health and Hospitals Corp., No. 17-1051-cv, 2019 WL 1594782 (2d Cir. April 15, 2019) (Summary Order), the Second Circuit vacated the lower court’s order granting summary judgment on plaintiff’s race/ethnicity/national origin discrimination claims.

After the court summarized the 3-step McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework for analyzing discrimination claims (the so-called “pretext” approach), the court explained:

Moza has demonstrated the existence of a triable fact issue as to whether Defendants-Appellees’ proffered reason for his dismissal was mere pretext. In both his district court complaint and in an exhibit to Moza’s complaint to the New York State Division of Human Rights, Moza asserts that he heard Defendant-Appellee Natalie Woll state on the phone that she “know[s] how to terminate this stupid Egyptian guy.” (App’x at 399.) Moza also provided other evidence of discriminatory animus towards him, including additional comments of Woll. (App’x at 17, 439.) It is for the jury to determine whether to credit Moza’s account. See Owens v. New York City Housing Auth., 934 F.2d 405, 410 (2d Cir. 1991). Accordingly, we vacate the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Moza’s federal claims that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race or ethnicity. For the same reason, we vacate the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Moza’s NYCHRL claims that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race, ethnicity, or national origin.

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