Pregnancy Discrimination, Religious-Based Hostile Work Environment Claims Survive Dismissal

From Rapaport v Strategic Financial Solutions LLC, No. 152764/18, 2019 WL 1247132 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 15, 2019):

The motion as to Action 1 is denied. In that action, plaintiff claims that while she was pregnant, defendants unlawfully reclassified her from a full-time employee to a part-time consultant when they acquired her prior employer (the only employee so reclassified). Then plaintiff claims that the defendants refused to honor a promise to classify her as an employee but instead terminated her while she was on Maternity Leave. These claims state a prima facie cause of action for pregnancy discrimination.

Defendants’ reliance on purported documentary evidence, to wit, emails showing that defendant permitted plaintiff to work from home, does not establish a defense as a matter of law. Indeed, such documents are not documentary evidence, insofar as they do not conclusively and unambiguously establish the absence of unlawful discrimination (see generally Fontanetta v. Doe, 73 AD3d 78 [2d Dept 2010]). For at least this reason, the motion in Action 1 is denied.

Turning to Action 2, defendants contend that this action is “nothing more and nothing less than a business dispute.” They maintain that disputes arose after Mikael Rapaport sold his business and point to an underlying employment agreement. However, as plaintiff’s counsel correctly points out, these arguments are unavailing. On a motion to dismiss, all a plaintiff needs to do is allege sufficient facts to support every element of the stated cause of action. Here, Mikael Rapaport has met his burden, insofar as he claims that he suffered religious-based discrimination and a hostile work environment in violation of the NYSHRL and NYCHRL.

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