Race Discrimination Claim Survives Motion to Dismiss; Allegations Included Pay Raise Granted to White Employees, Denied to Black Plaintiff

In Collins v. Resource Center for Independent Living, 17-CV-0925, 2018 WL 5983377 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2018), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss – on the pleadings, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) – plaintiff’s Title VII race-based employment discrimination claim.[1]The court also, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race-based hostile work environment claim.

From the decision:

Defendant summarily states that, “[i]n [Plaintiff’s] case, no allegations are made that could support an inference of discrimination whatsoever, and certainly none are alleged at all during the three hundred (300) day limitations period.” Mem. at 12–13. The Court disagrees. True, the denied WIPA training cannot on its own support such an inference, as Plaintiff has failed to point to any similarly situated employees that were granted the opportunity to attend that training (or another like it). However, the Court finds that several of the other allegations contained in the Complaint—including (1) Plaintiff’s alleged demotion, which coincided with the promotion and/or retention of other, less qualified white employees; (2) the post-discipline pay raise that was automatically granted to certain white employees, but denied Plaintiff; and (3) McCormick’s decision to assign all of the OPWDD training responsibilities to Murphy, a white employee, rather than Plaintiff, a black employee—satisfy Plaintiff’s minimal burden at this stage of the litigation. …

It is not necessarily clear to the Court, based solely on the allegations contained in the Complaint, that Plaintiff was similarly situated to each of the comparators in the above three cases. However, in describing the post-discipline pay raise, Plaintiff states that both she and the white employee comparators were disciplined for the same offense, and presumably should have received the same treatment. Moreover, regarding the OPWDD training, both Murphy and Plaintiff held “Director” level positions within Defendant’s agency, and as the Directors of Service Coordination and Training, respectively, it seems plausible that either of the two would have been qualified to conduct the OPWDD training program. And regardless, Defendant has failed to raise any arguments calling those aspects of Plaintiff’s claims into question. Therefore, the Court finds that the Complaint sufficiently pleads that Plaintiff was similarly situated to each of the above comparators to satisfy Plaintiff’s minimal burden at this stage.

1 The court also, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race-based hostile work environment claim.
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