Race/Gender Discrimination Claims Insufficiently Alleged Under the NYC Human Rights Law, Court Holds

In Campbell v. The City of New York, No. 150019/2020, 2020 WL 6161621, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 33440(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Oct. 20, 2020), the court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint alleging discrimination under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

This decision is instructive as to the level of specificity courts require/look for when evaluating a complaint for pleading sufficiency.

After summarizing the applicable procedural and substantive legal standards, the court applied the law to the facts:

The main issue is whether plaintiff made a sufficient showing of discrimination based on race and/or gender. Plaintiff argues that he is not obligated to go into great detail in his pleadings as long as he alleges events which effect an inference of discriminatory conduct. While plaintiff identifies the names and races and genders of employees which are designated as similarly situated pursuant to city and state law, defendants argue that the complaint fails to **5 mention the job titles, job duties, seniority, experience or years of service related to these employees. Defendants also argue that plaintiff failed to allege any acts constituting discrimination on their part.

Plaintiff alleges that he was informed that he would be notified for an interview and was never notified. When preparing for the examination, he was questioned by an unnamed manager about taking the examination, but he fails to refer to this incident anywhere else in the complaint. While he alleges that two African American women received promotions pursuant to passing the examination, he only alleges that five white men received probable certifications but not promotions.

The First Department has held that conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law. Whitfield-Ortiz v Department of Educ. of the City of New York, 116 AD3d 580 [1st Dept 2014]. While it is understandable that discerning acts of discrimination can be difficult and elusive, plaintiff has failed to be more than vague and incomplete in his assertion of conduct which would infer a discriminatory motive by defendants. Plaintiff’s failure to provide a more detailed account of causation requires the dismissal of this complaint.

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