Stupid and Wicked? Maybe. Discrimination? Not Necessarily

In McGuire-Welch v. The House of the Good Shepherd, 16-4095, 2018 WL 443487 (2d Cir. Jan. 17, 2018) (Summary Order), the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the New York State Human Rights Law.

The court applied the principle that “anti-discrimination law does not make employers liable for doing stupid or even wicked things but only for discriminating, for firing people on account of their [as relevant here,] age.” (Emphasis added.)

The court was not persuaded by plaintiff’s argument that her replacement by a 29-year-old (she was 60 at the time of her termination). It observed that “[w]hile this court has recognized that replacement by a significantly younger employee can give rise to an inference of discrimination … we have also stated that a disparity in the ages of a [ ] … plaintiff and her replacement … will not, by itself, always suffice to show an employer’s proffered reason is a pretext for discrimination[.]” Here, although plaintiff “suggest[ed] that her younger replacement had less experience, she produces no evidence that her replacement was unqualified.”

It concluded that “because McGuire-Welch failed to adduce sufficient evidence to show that defendants’ articulated reason for her termination was a pretext for age discrimination, defendants were entitled to summary judgment on her discrimination claims.”

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