Age Discrimination Complaint Dismissed; Court Rejects Argument that Suspension for “Memory Issues” Was Discriminatory

In Parron v. Verizon New York, Inc. et al, 17-cv-3848, 2018 WL 2538221 (S.D.N.Y. May 15, 2018), the court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s age discrimination and hostile work environment claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

In finding that plaintiff did not show that his suspension occurred in circumstances giving rise to an inference of discriminatory intent, the court explained, inter alia:

Here, on the civil cover sheet filed with his complaint, Plaintiff states that he was “disciplined pending termination for my decreased learning capacity.” (Decl. of Scott Casher dated Jan. 2, 2018 (“Casher Decl.”) Ex B, ECF No. 35-2.) Plaintiff’s complaint also suggests that his suspension was due to his cognitive abilities. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that his “civil rights have been trampled upon for [his] inability to absorb an enormous amount of information” that is “difficult to retain on top of a mountain of experiences that have piled up over more than 50 years of merely being alive.” (Compl. at 13.) Plaintiff also describes his suspension as, in effect, a “punish[ment] for not absorbing information as fast as I could nearly 30 years ago.” (Id.; see also Pl. Mem. in Opp’n to Defs. Mot. for Summ. J. (“Opp’n”), ECF No. 55, at 1 (suggesting that “age” may have been “a factor in Plaintiff’s ability to retain and recall the requisite volume of information necessary to perform in his new capacity”).) But even assuming that Plaintiff was suspended because of memory problems or an inability to retain information, that fact alone would not indicate that he was discriminated against due to his age. While a person’s memory or cognitive abilities may be “correlat[ed]” or “empirically intertwined with age,” a decision to terminate Plaintiff based on those abilities would be one “motivated by ‘some feature other than [Plaintiff’s] age’ ” and, as such, would not violate the ADEA.

For these, and other, reasons, the court held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination.

Even if plaintiff could establish a prima facie case, the court explained, defendants proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for plaintiff’s termination (e.g., lateness, not following instructions, and violating defendant’s work time rules).

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