Federal Discrimination Claims Not Barred By State and City Law Election of Remedies, Court Holds

In Rodriguez v. Dickard Widder Indus., No. 19323/13, 2017 WL 2259841 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept. May 24, 2017) – arising from plaintiff’s allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation – the court held that “the plaintiff’s State law causes of action under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL are barred by her election of an administrative remedy” since “[t]he plaintiff filed an administrative complaint directly with the DHR based on the same events and is thus barred from asserting those claims under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL in this plenary action.”

The court reached a different conclusion with respect to plaintiff’s federal claims, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

However, the plaintiff’s election of an administrative remedy for her State law employment discrimination claims does not bar her maintenance of federal employment discrimination claims pursuant to [T]itle VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]. The plaintiff had an absolute right to commence a Federal claim simultaneously with a State administrative claim because the two are supplementary, not mutually exclusive[]. Unlike State law claims, [T]itle VII claims may be brought in a court of law even when a charge has been dismissed by the EEOC as groundless.

In addition, “the federal causes of action asserted in the amended complaint relate back to the original complaint and were thus timely.”

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