Failure-to-Hire Case Properly Dismissed, Notwithstanding “Bad” and “Unfair” Treatment

In Williams v. New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, 16-3207-cv, 2017 WL 4461020 (2d Cir. Oct. 6, 2017) (Summary Order), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s race-based failure-to-hire discrimination claim.

Here are the facts, as (briefly) summarized by the court:

Williams alleges that the Hospital stopped considering his employment application after a prospective or recently hired employee of the Hospital racially profiled Williams and wrongly accused him of stealing her cell phone while he was waiting for his second job interview. This accusation, ultimately dropped, led to an escalating series of interrogations in which Williams became increasingly agitated. He ultimately was removed from the Hospital by police officers and not allowed to continue with the interview process.

In applying the law to the facts, the court’s opinion starts out in a way that seems favorable to the plaintiff:

Assuming, as we are required to do at this stage of the proceedings, that everything Williams plausibly alleges is true, it does seem that he was badly and unfairly treated.. Apparently without any evidence, Williams was accused of theft and interrogated by police. He was thrown out of the Hospital when he protested his treatment, even though he had been cleared of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, it is well known to this court that racism on the part of accuser, investigators, and bystanders may well have affected the course of events.

Unfortunately for plaintiff, however, that is not enough to prevail on an employment discrimination claim:

However unfairly Williams may have been treated, we agree with the District Court that he has not stated a claim for employment discrimination under Title VII. Even if he provides reason to infer that his accuser and the NYPD officers were “motivated by discriminatory intent,” as required by Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 85 (2d Cir. 2015), he does not provide reason to infer that the decision not to hire him derived from the same motives. The motives for accusation and unfair treatment during the investigation cannot be equated with the motives not to hire Williams, at least not on the factual allegations that Williams puts forward. Had Williams instead been late to a job interview due to a racially discriminatory police stop, we could simultaneously conclude that he had been mistreated due to his race and that he had no claim against those who decided not to hire him. Similarly here. Especially damaging to Williams’s claim is the fact, disclosed in the New York State Division of Human Rights determination he attached to his amended complaint, that “both applicants who were ultimately hired for the open Transporter positions [that Williams was in consideration for]…are also African American.”

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