Age Discrimination Claims Properly Dismissed on Collateral Estoppel and Other Grounds

In Afrat v. Kimber Manufacturing, No. 2017-01081, 68808/15, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 00394, 2020 WL 356185 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., Jan. 22, 2020), the Second Department affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s age discrimination claim.

Plaintiff commenced an action in federal court, alleging age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and state and local law. The federal court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the federal claims and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s state and local law causes of action.

Initially, the court held that plaintiff was collaterally estopped from asserting causes of action under state and local law for age discrimination and retaliation occurring after his alleged demotion, reasoning:

Where a federal court declines to exercise jurisdiction over a plaintiff’s state law claims, collateral estoppel may still bar those claims provided that the federal court decided issues identical to those raised by the plaintiff’s state claims” (Milione v. City Univ. of N.Y., 153 A.D.3d 807, 808–809, 59 N.Y.S.3d 796; see Karimian v. Time Equities, Inc., 164 A.D.3d 486, 488, 83 N.Y.S.3d 227). Here, the factual determinations made by the District Court with respect to the causes of action alleging discrimination and retaliation in violation of the ADEA were determinative of the aforementioned claims.

As to plaintiff’s claim that he was demoted as a result of age discrimination, which was not addressed on the merits by the federal court, the court wrote:

[W]e agree with the Supreme Court’s determination awarding the defendant summary judgment dismissing the cause of action alleging age discrimination based on his demotion. The defendant proffered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the elimination of his position as maintenance manager, namely the restructuring and streamlining of the defendant’s operations which made the plaintiff’s position redundant (see Matter of Laverack & Haines v. New York State Div. of Human Rights, 88 N.Y.2d 734, 738–739, 650 N.Y.S.2d 76, 673 N.E.2d 586; Hudson v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 138 A.D.3d 511, 515, 31 N.Y.S.3d 3). Furthermore, the defendant eliminated all triable issues of fact as to whether the proffered non-discriminatory reason for the elimination of the plaintiff’s position was a pretext for age discrimination (see Forrest v. Jewish Guild for the Blind, 3 N.Y.3d 295, 305, 786 N.Y.S.2d 382, 819 N.E.2d 998; Ferrante v. American Lung Assn., 90 N.Y.2d 623, 630, 665 N.Y.S.2d 25, 687 N.E.2d 1308; DeMay v. Miller & Wrubel, 262 A.D.2d 184, 185, 692 N.Y.S.2d 331). In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

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