Race Discrimination Claim Sufficiently Alleged Against Watershed Ventures

In Rodrigues v. Watershed Ventures LLC, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 30322(U), 2018 WL 1030303 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 23, 2018), the court held, inter alia, that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a claim for discrimination under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

The court explained the applicable legal standards:

In employment discrimination actions brought pursuant to the state and city HRLs, the plaintiff need not plead specific facts establishing a prima facie case of discrimination, but must instead give fair notice of the nature of the claim and its grounds. (Vig v New York Hairspray Co., L.P., 67 AD3d 140, 145 [1st Dept 2009]). To state a cause of action for discrimination, a plaintiff must “plead facts that would tend to show (1) membership in a protected class, (2) an actual or constructive discharge or adverse employment action, (3) qualification to hold the position for which he or she was terminated or suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) that the discharge or adverse employment action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination.

Applying the law, the court held:

Here, plaintiffs allege that they are South Asian, that they are or were qualified for promotion to waitstaff as they speak fluent English, are familiar with the restaurants’ food and wine menus, and have been praised for their work ethic, and that defendants engaged in an adverse employment action by repeatedly refusing to promote them to waitstaff, claiming that no positions were available while subsequently hiring non-minorities in their stead. Plaintiffs also allege that the entire waitstaff consists of non-minorities or those with light complexions. (See Emengo v State of New York, 143 AD3d 508 [1st Dept 2016] [plaintiff sufficiently alleged that he was minority, well-qualified for employment positions, was refused promotions, and was adversely treated because of race and national origin]; Brathwaite v Frankel, 98 AD3d 444, 445 [1st Dept 2012] [claim sufficient under city HRL as plaintiffs alleged membership in protected class, and that they were qualified for positions and suffered adverse employment action, which gave rise to inference of discrimination as all disabled workers were fired, while non-disabled not fired]). They have thus sufficiently pleaded a claim for discrimination.

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