Afghanistan-Based Employee’s New York State and City Law Discrimination Claims Properly Dismissed

In Ware v. L-3 Vertex Aerospace, LLC, 2020 WL 6494823 (2d Cir. Nov. 5, 2020) (Summary Order), the court, inter alia, affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws on geographic grounds.

From the Order:

Ware was a resident of Jacksonville, Florida during his employment, at the time of his departure from L-3 Vertex Aerospace, LLC (“L-3 Vertex”), and at the time he filed his complaint in district court. His complaint states that, “Plaintiff is an African-American citizen of the United States who currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida and who was employed by Defendants in Afghanistan.” Joint App’x at 490. His resume lists his address as Jacksonville, Florida, his plane tickets back from Afghanistan were to Jacksonville, Florida, and his “employee data sheet” with L-3 Vertex states his address as Jacksonville, Florida. Ware also did not work in New York or New York City; he worked as a supply technician in Shindand, Afghanistan, was trained for the role in Madison, Mississippi, and signed an employment contract with L-3 Vertex that stated, “This Agreement is made in the State of Mississippi … and shall be subject to the State and Federal laws thereof.” Joint App’x at 178. The sole connection of this case to New York is that L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc., the parent company of L-3 Vertex, is headquartered in New York.

We exercise our discretion to address the legal issue presented here for the first time on appeal: whether a nonresident alleging discriminatory conduct who did not work in New York can assert a cause of action under the NYCHRL or NYHRL. Every case to address this issue forecloses such a conclusion. See also Vangas v. Montefiore Med. Ctr., 823 F.3d 174, 182–83 (2d Cir. 2016) (requiring that “the impact of the employment action [be] felt by the plaintiff in NYC”) (emphasis in original)); Hardwick v. Auriemma, 983 N.Y.S.2d 509, 512 (2014).

Having reached this conclusion, the court turned to plaintiff’s remaining claim of retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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