Court Allows Evidence of Post-Termination “Brown Monkey” Remark in Race/National Origin Discrimination Case

In Rao v. Rodriguez, No. 14-cv-1936, 2017 WL 1403214 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 18, 2017), a race/national origin/age discrimination case, the court – having previously denied defendants’ motions for summary judgment – ruled on several motions in limine as to the evidence to be presented at trial.

In one such motion, defendants sought to preclude “any evidence regarding a statement in which Rodriguez [defendant Wyckoff’s CEO] purportedly referred to Plaintiff as ‘brown monkey,'” arguing that the remark was “highly prejudicial” but “of low probative value” because it was made more than a year after plaintiff left defendant.

The court declined to preclude the evidence, reasoning:

The court acknowledges Defendants’ concern that the alleged “brown monkey” remark may be highly prejudicial, even though it is the most temporally remote of Rodriguez’s alleged statements. Nonetheless, a jury could reasonably find that the remark is probative of Rodriguez’s general attitude about certain demographic groups, which may have affected his decisions in Plaintiff’s case, particularly since the alleged remark arose in a discussion of Plaintiff’s discrimination claims.

While it denied defendants’ motion, it nevertheless “invite[d] Defendants to propose an appropriate limiting instruction, should they so desire.”

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