Discrimination Claims Arising From Conduct Outside U.S. Dismissed

In Salem v. Royal Air Maroc, No. 15-CV-5909 (KBF), 2016 WL 1717219, (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 28, 2016), the Southern District of New York dismissed plaintiff’s claims of discrimination occurring in Egypt, arising from conduct by agents of a foreign entity (Royal Air Maroc).

Judge Forrest held that “neither federal nor state and local discrimination laws protect [plaintiff] against allegedly discriminatory conduct of a foreign corporation occurring outside of the United States.”

It explained:

[T]he federal antidiscrimination statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, does not apply to discriminatory conduct that occurs outside U.S. Territory. The statute states, “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts … as is enjoyed by white citizens.” As the Second Circuit has held, nothing in the language or the structure or history of Section 1981 suggests that Congress intended the statute to reach discrimination against individuals outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. In the absence of contrary expressed intention of Congress, there is a presumption against extraterritorial application of statutes. While in other contexts … Congress has decided to extend the application of civil rights statutes to cover conduct occurring outside the jurisdiction of the United States … through explicit legislative amendments, Congress has not legislated such an amendment for Section 1981. Similarly, New York state and local antidiscrimination statutes also do not apply to extraterritorial acts by foreign defendants.

The court also dismissed plaintiff’s claim against RAM “for sexual harassment towards [his] wife,” citing the fact that he made no allegations that he was personally sexually harassed. “[A] litigant must assert his or her own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest a claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties.”

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