Race/Color-Based Pay Discrimination Claims Dismissed on Reconsideration

In Rogers v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2017 WL 4157376 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 19, 2017), the court granted defendants’ motion for reconsideration and dismissed plaintiff’s claims of race- and color-based pay discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.[1]It also gave plaintiff plaintiff one last chance to allege a national origin discrimination claim.

Plaintiff, who is African American, asserted that she was subjected to unlawful discrimination based on her race and color. The court held that defendants met the “strict” standard for reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 – i.e., that the court “overlooked matters or controlling decisions which might have materially influenced the earlier decision.”

It found, specifically:

Reconsideration is warranted because defendants have identified evidence that they submitted in support of their motion for summary judgment that supported their position that there was a non-discriminatory reason for the differences in salary and salary review cycles between plaintiff and office managers outside of her protected class. Evidence that a plaintiff’s comparators had greater lengths of service in the position constitutes a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for providing plaintiff with a lower salary and less frequent salary reviews.

It also noted evidence of defendants’ non-discriminatory reason for the pay disparity – namely, “that both white and African-American office managers often received raises more frequently than every 18 months”, which “cuts against plaintiff’s argument that the decision to place plaintiff on an 18-month salary cycle review was related to her race or color”.

In addition, “undisputed evidence that one white office manager was paid less than plaintiff and one African-American office manager was paid more than some of the white office managers further bolsters defendants’ position that salaries were based on factors other than race or color.”

The court proceeded to explain that plaintiff “failed to offer evidence to suggest that defendants’ non-discriminatory explanation for the difference in compensation between her and the office managers outside of her protected class was pretextual.”

Finally, plaintiff did not provide “any additional evidence of discriminatory animus to support her allegations of pretext” but rather “relies solely on the disparity in pay and salary review periods between herself and other office managers to support her claim of discrimination.” This was insufficient under, e.g., St. Mary’s Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 515 (1993), which provides that in order to be a pretext for discrimination, it must be “shown both that the reason was false, and that discrimination was the real reason.”

1 It also gave plaintiff plaintiff one last chance to allege a national origin discrimination claim.
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