Citing Productivity Decline, Court Dismisses Race and Religion-Based Discrimination Claims

In Beards et al v. Bronxcare Health System et al, 2021 WL 704177 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 23, 2021), the court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims of race- and religion-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

After concluding that plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed under federal and state law, the court likewise held that plaintiff failed to meet the (comparatively broader) statement under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

For the same reasons that plaintiffs have satisfied the more stringent test for a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII and the NYSHRL, they have they made out a prima facie case under the NYCHRL. See supra pp. 22–26. Nonetheless, summary judgment on a claim under the NYCHRL “is appropriate if the record establishes as a matter of law that discrimination or retaliation played no role in the defendant’s actions.” Montgomery v. N.Y.C. Transit Auth., 806 F. App’x 27, 31 (2d Cir. 2020) (summary order). Such is the case here. For the reasons reviewed above, plaintiffs have failed to adduce evidence that would permit a reasonable juror to find that, in connection with their terminations, plaintiffs were treated less well than attending dentists belonging to other racial or religious groups. And, for the reasons reviewed, there is substantial neutral evidence supporting the first non-discriminatory reasons articulated by defendants as the bases for terminating Beards and Berd-Vergier: that each’s productivity had markedly declined. And while Beards claims BronxCare’s high no-show rate is to blame for this decline, he does not address why other periodontists, including one white, Jewish periodontist, did not experience similar productivity drops. Nor has he come forward with viable evidence explaining why the BronxCare policies that he faults for his productivity lapses were motivated by racial or religious discrimination or would be expected to disparately affect white and/or Jewish attending dentists. Berd-Vergier, the sole prosthodontist, similarly also saw her productivity drop sharply, and she, too, cannot attribute this fact to discrimination. As for defendants’ separate stated basis for terminating the two plaintiffs—their problematic workplace attitudes and comportments—such was attested to by multiple non-party witnesses such as fellow attending dentists, and there had been several patient complaints as Beard, and one as to Berd-Vergier. Plaintiffs have not adduced any evidence ascribing these events to racial or religious discrimination.

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