“Monkey ID” Age Discrimination Case Dismissed

In Lewkowicz v. Terence Cardinal Cook Health Care Center, No. 153100/2020, 2021 WL 1423996 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Apr. 14, 2021), the court dismissed plaintiff’s claims of age discrimination in violation of the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

Here are the factual allegations, as summarized by the court:

In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that, on April 30, 2017, he came to work and presented his current identification card. He showed his ID to “one of the newer security guards”, who noticed that, on the reverse side of the card, plaintiff had put a picture of a monkey’s face over where his photo had been on his expired ID card. Doc. 2. Plaintiff insisted that he often showed people his expired ID card and jokingly told them that it was a picture of him when he was younger, better looking, and had had more hair. Id. Although defendants maintain that the security guard was African-American, plaintiff does not specifically allege this, although he claims that he “never dreamed that the joke ID card could be in any way construed as racially sensitive [sic].” Doc. 2 at par. 67. On May 5, 2017, just days after the security guard saw the monkey photo on plaintiff’s expired ID, plaintiff received a letter from Archcare advising him that he was being terminated “due to a recent incident in which [he] engaged in disruptive behavior in violation of TCC’s policies and procedures.” Doc. 2 at par. 72.

Applying the law, the court explained:

Even construing the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff, this Court finds it clearly fails to state a complaint of age discrimination pursuant to the NYSHRL or the NYCHRL (See McCabe v Consulate General of Canada, 170 AD3d 449, 449-450 [1st Dept 2019]). Although plaintiff alleges that he was terminated due to his age, this claim is totally conclusory insofar as he pleads absolutely no facts upon which it can be based. Indeed, plaintiff even admits that he was terminated within days after showing the monkey photo on his expired ID card to a security guard.

The court also dismissed plaintiff’s claims of race- and religious-based discrimination, noting that plaintiff’s claims were labeled as claims for age discrimination, and that plaintiff failed “to plead that he was a member of a particular religious group or that such group was subjected to discrimination at his workplace.”

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