Title VII Discrimination Claim Insufficiently Alleged, Court Holds

In Adeniji v. U.S. Department of Commerce/Census Bureau-NY Regional Office/Hannah Zimmerman, 2019 WL 7067057 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 23, 2019), the court dismissed plaintiff’s race discrimination and retaliation claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claim, the court explained:

To state an employment discrimination claim under Title VII, “a plaintiff must plausibly allege that (1) the employer took adverse employment action against him, and (2) his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor in the employment decision.” Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 86 (2d Cir. 2015). The plaintiff “may do so by alleging facts that directly show discrimination or facts that indirectly show discrimination by giving rise to a plausible inference of discrimination.

Plaintiff asserts that the Census Bureau discriminated against him because of his race. But he does not allege sufficient facts to suggest that the Census Bureau took any adverse employment action against him based on his race. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim of employment discrimination under Title VII.

Turning to plaintiff’s retaliation claim, the court held:

To state a retaliation claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must allege facts that suggest that “(1) [the] defendant[ ] discriminated – or took an adverse employment action – against him, (2) because he has opposed any unlawful employment practice.” Id. at 90 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To satisfy the second pleading requirement, a plaintiff must allege facts suggesting that “the adverse action would not have occurred in the absence of the retaliatory motive.” Id. at 91 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). This “may be shown by direct evidence of retaliatory animus or inferred through temporal proximity to the protected activity.” Duplan v. City of New York, 888 F.3d 612, 625 (2d Cir. 2018) (Title VII context).

Plaintiff asserts that the Census Bureau retaliated against him. But he has alleged insufficient facts to suggest that he suffered an adverse employment action as a direct result of his opposition to unlawful employment practices.

All was not lost, however, since the court permitted the (pro se) plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to details his claims. In that vein, that portion of the court’s opinion operates as a roadmap for plaintiffs in discrimination cases:

In the statement of claim, Plaintiff must provide a short and plain statement of the relevant facts supporting each claim against the defendant.1 The Court also directs Plaintiff to provide the address for the named defendant. To the greatest extent possible, Plaintiff’s amended complaint must:

a) give the names and titles of all relevant persons;

b) describe all relevant events, stating the facts that support Plaintiff’s case, including what the defendant did or failed to do;

c) give the dates and times of each relevant event or, if not known, the approximate date and time of each relevant event;

d) give the location where each relevant event occurred;

e) describe how the defendant’s acts or omissions violated Plaintiff’s rights and describe the injuries Plaintiff suffered; and

f) state what relief Plaintiff seeks from the Court, such as money damages, injunctive relief, or declaratory relief.

Essentially, the body of Plaintiff’s amended complaint must tell the Court: who has violated his federally protected rights; what facts suggest that his federally protected rights have been violated; when such violations have occurred; where such violations have occurred; and why Plaintiff is entitled to relief.

[Emphasis supplied by court.]