Citing “Stray Remarks” Doctrine, 2d Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Discrimination Claim

In Emengo v. Stark, 2019 WL 2206250 (2d Cir. May 22, 2019) (Summary Order), the court, inter alia, affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s failure-to-promote race/national origin discrimination claim.

After summarizing the law, the court explained:

While Defendants sufficiently established non-discriminatory reasons for the failure to promote Emengo, he has failed to present sufficient evidence that these reasons are mere pretext for actual discriminatory motivations. Beyond offering conclusory allegations that NYSIF fostered a racist culture, Emengo highlights a single derogatory remark about “immigrants” made by Mullen, seven years prior to the period at issue here. Appendix 451. But Mullen’s “stray remark” made in a context temporally remote from and entirely unconnected to the relevant hiring process is not sufficient to support a finding of pretext. See Danzer v. Norden Sys., Inc., 151 F.3d 50, 56 (2d Cir. 1998) (“[S]tray remarks, even if made by a decisionmaker, do not constitute sufficient evidence to make out a case of employment discrimination.”); cf. Sassaman v. Gamache, 566 F.3d 307, 314 (2d Cir. 2009) (declining to characterize remark as “stray” where defendant made remark on the very same phone call during which he convinced the plaintiff to resign).

Based on this, the court agreed with the district court “that a reasonable fact finder could not conclude that race, national origin, or ancestry was the reason for the Defendants’ alleged failure to promote [plaintiff].”