Evidence of Derogatory Comments About Jews Leads to Denial of Summary Judgment in Employment Discrimination Case

In Santiesteban v. Nestle Waters North America, Inc. (decided Oct. 15, 2014), the Eastern District of New York denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of discrimination and hostile work environment (based on religion).

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claim, the court held:

[T]he comments that “you people are manipulative,” that “Plaintiff manipulated … Cappetta and others into giving him the promotion,” and that “Jews only buy from Jews,” when viewed in light of Plaintiff’s other evidence showing that Plaintiff and two other Jewish employees were harassed when they requested time off for the Jewish high holy days, that Plaintiff’s managers would not always provide him with kosher meals at group lunches, and that Plaintiff was sent to Jewish locations to sell merchandise even though the sale opportunities in those locations were smaller than the sales he should have been soliciting, provide evidence to permit a jury to infer a discriminatory animus.

It also held that the comments and conduct of plaintiff’s managers raise a triable issue of fact as to whether defendant’s articulated reasons for transferring plaintiff were a “pretext” for discrimination, a conclusion which was also supported by defendant’s nonconformity with its normal procedures, namely, by failing to place plaintiff on a Performance Improvement Plan before transferring him, and failing to document his transfer.

The court, however, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claims of retaliation, denial of transfer, constructive discharge, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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