Gender Discrimination Claim Dismissed; Sexual Harassment Allegation Not Motivated by Discriminatory Animus

In Durden v. Metropolitan Transit Authority, 17-cv-5558, 2018 WL 3360757 (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 2018), the court,¬†inter alia, adopted a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation that it grant defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim for gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The facts, in sum: plaintiff was accused by a co-worker of sexual harassment, and terminated upon his employer’s finding that he acted unprofessionally toward his co-worker. Plaintiff¬†alleged that “because of his sex, he was treated differently during the sexual harassment investigation, in that the MTA gave greater credence to his female accuser than it gave him, and that it declined to interview all of his preferred witnesses.”

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff alleging sex discrimination under Title VII must allege that (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) he was qualified for the position; (3) he suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the circumstances give rise to a minimal inference of discriminatory motivation.”

While plaintiff met the first three elements, he failed to adequately allege the fourth:

[Plaintiff’s] allegations, standing alone, are insufficient to give rise to even a minimal inference of discrimination. There is no allegation that his accuser was motivated by discriminatory animus in claiming sexual harassment; on the contrary, Durden repeatedly alleges that she made the claim out of anger against Durden for writing down her train car numbers. … Nor has Durden adduced any comparator evidence; there is no allegation here that the MTA treated investigations into the alleged misconduct of female employees any differently. … And finally, Durden has not alleged any statements or actions by MTA employees that would give rise to an inference that the investigation or its outcome was influenced by his sex.

Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff’s sex discrimination claim must be dismissed.

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