National Origin Discrimination Claims Dismissed in Light of Terms of Employment

In Gookool v. Laser, 2014 NY Slip Op 50906(U) [43 Misc 3d 1232(A)], the New York Supreme Court, Suffolk County dismissed plaintiff’s national origin discrimination claims. Plaintiff asserted that the defendant engaged in unlawful employment discrimination by requiring him to perform certain work tasks in addition to his other job responsibilities.

Even assuming this was true, he failed to make out a prima facie claim of discrimination.

The court pointed to Section 1 of the parties’ Terms of Employment, which plaintiff signed, and which provides:

I agree that … any employment granted to me is at will and for an indefinite term … I further understand that the provisions of … written statements of or regarding personnel policies, practices or procedures that are or may be issued by Company or any official or department thereof … create no vested rights; that any such provisions may be changed, revised, modified, suspended, canceled, or eliminated by Company at any time without notice; and that they constitute guidelines only and may be disregarded either in individual or Company-wide situations when in the sole opinion and judgment of Company circumstances so require.

It held that, based on this language,

even if, as plaintiff claims, his duties as a Shipping and Receiving Clerk were limited to the specific written list of tasks as plaintiff claims, the plaintiff agreed that such written tasks “created no vested rights” for him, and that any such tasks “may be changed, revised [or] modified … by [the defendant] Company at any time without notice; and that they constitute guidelines only.” The terms of plaintiff’s at-will employment, as well as plaintiff’s positive review and increase in salary, belie plaintiff’s claim that the defendant treated him unfairly and subjected him to a continuous hostile and discriminatory environment in violation of New York executive Law §296. Therefore, plaintiff’s First Cause of Action is dismissed.

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