Court Affirms Dismissal of NYCHRL Discrimination Claim

In Ellison v. Chartis Claims, Inc., 2019 NY Slip Op 08654 (App. Div. 2d Dept. Dec. 4, 2019), the court, inter alia, affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s race discrimination claim.

The court summarized the law of discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law:

Under the NYCHRL, unlawful discrimination must play “no role” in an employment decision (Singh v Covenant Aviation Sec., LLC, 131 AD3d 1158, 1161 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Administrative Code of City of New York ยง 8-101). Thus, a defense motion for summary judgment must be analyzed under both the McDonnell Douglas framework and the “mixed motive” framework, which imposes a lesser burden on a plaintiff opposing such a motion (Hamburg v New York Univ. Sch. of Medicine, 155 AD3d 66, 73; see Bennett v Health Mgt. Sys., Inc., 92 AD3d 29, 45). A defendant must make “a prima facie showing that there is no evidentiary route that could allow a jury to believe that discrimination played a role in their challenged actions” (Cenzon-Decarlo v Mount Sinai Hosp., 101 AD3d 924, 927; see Moise v Uptown Communications & Elec., Inc., 134 AD3d 782, 783). A plaintiff may defeat summary judgment by coming forward either with evidence that the defendant’s stated reasons were a pretext for discrimination or with evidence that discrimination was one of the motivating factors for the defendant’s conduct (see Hamburg v New York Univ. Sch. of Medicine, 155 AD3d at 73). Similarly, where the defendant produces nonretaliatory reasons for the challenged action, the plaintiff must either raise an issue of fact as to pretext or as to whether, “regardless of any legitimate motivations the defendant may have had, the defendant was motivated at least in part by an impermissible motive”.

Applying the law, the court held that defendants offered “legitimate, nondiscriminatory” for the challenged actions, and that “plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact that the proffered explanations were a pretext for discrimination or retaliation or that discrimination or retaliation was one of the motivating factors for the challenged actions.”

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