Religious, Race, Sex Discrimination Claims Dismissed on Non-Exhaustion and Substantive Grounds

In Bell v. McRoberts Protective Agency, Inc., No. 15-CV-0963 (JPO), 2016 WL 7192083 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2016), the court dismissed plaintiff’s federal, state, and city claims of religious, race, and sex discrimination under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (This decision, which follows a prior dismissal of plaintiff’s claims, focuses on plaintiff’s amended complaint.)

Initially, Judge Oetken dismissed plaintiff’s religious discrimination claim. In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleged that he was “caused … emotional distress” and “persecuted” because he “follow[s] Judaism”.

Here is a summary of the relevant law:

Prior to pursuing a Title VII suit in federal court, a plaintiff must first file a complaint with the EEOC or an analogous state agency, here the SDHR. Burgis v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Sanitation, 798 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir. 2015) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5). A court may entertain claims of discrimination that were not explicitly exhausted only where the claims are “reasonably related to the allegations in the complaint filed with the EEOC.” Watson v. Paulson, 578 F. Supp. 2d 554, 562 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Kirkland v. Buffalo Bd. of Educ., 622 F.2d 1066, 1068 (2d Cir. 1980) (per curiam) (internal quotation mark omitted)). “The law is well-settled that a federal court claim for religious discrimination is not ‘reasonably related’ to an EEOC claim for discrimination on the basis of race … absent something in the EEOC claim that refers to religion.”

Applying the law, the court held:

[Plaintiff] did not raise any allegation of religious discrimination in his administrative complaint — it was thus not considered by the SDHR or the EEOC prior to reaching this Court. Bell further failed to make any reference to facts or circumstances suggesting religious discrimination that would have prompted an administrative investigation. Bell’s claim of religious discrimination therefore has not been exhausted, and the Court cannot now consider it.


The court then turned to the merits.

In dismissing plaintiff’s remaining discrimination claims, the court held:

[Plaintiff] has failed to plead additional facts to state a claim under Title VII. As before, Bell has not identified any adverse employment action. While Bell describes being kept late and sometimes working at night, it is not clear these conditions constitute an adverse employment action. … Moreover, even if Bell had alleged adverse employment action, he has failed to provide any additional factual “support for the proposition that his employer was motivated by discriminatory intent” beyond what he pleaded in his initial complaint. As this Court held previously, [w]ithout some factual assertion to support the inference that Bell’s supervisors gave him inferior tasks on the basis of a protected characteristic, Bell’s claim cannot proceed.

The court dismissed his retaliation claim, holding: “As before, Bell’s claim amounts to his supervisor’s failing to take action after Bell reported insults, including a racial slur, used by a co-worker. But absent any evidence of an adverse action taken against Bell because he made this report, Bell cannot sustain a retaliation claim.”

It also dismissed plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim: “Bell’s hostile work environment claim also remains deficient. Bell has not alleged any additional facts linking any of his complained-of working conditions (including his late nights or his supervisors’ failure to reprimand his co-workers for various infractions) to his race or his gender. Thus, even if Bell suffered a workplace environment that was hostile, he has not presented any allegations to support the “causal factor requirement[ ]” linking those conditions to his race or sex.”

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