Age and Gender Discrimination Claims, Arising From Allegation of Forced Retirement, Survive Dismissal

In Leach v. University at Buffalo Pediatric Associates, Inc., 2021 WL 1723129 (W.D.N.Y. April 30, 2021), the court held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged age and gender discrimination claims.

From the decision:

Taking Leach’s allegations as true, she has adequately pleaded the adverse action element of a claim. She states that she was offered a choice between immediately retiring and having an MEC investigation launched. Lipshultz, a Kaleida employee, told her that an MEC investigation on her record would jeopardize her career. Leach alleges that she did not want to retire, but that fear of the Kaleida MEC investigation forced her to do so. This constitutes a sufficiently adverse action to state a claim.

Kaleida also argues that Leach has failed to allege that any adverse action on its part was motivated by her gender or age. Kaleida points to other elements in her complaint, including her admonishment of a younger PA and her email response to the STAR report, as reasons for her dismissal. But Kaleida’s true motivation is a factual question that cannot be answered here. At this stage, Leach needs only to plead facts allowing a minimal inference of discrimination. She does this by alleging that younger male colleagues did not face any consequences for admonishing APPs who made clinical errors while Leach, an older woman, did. She notes a conversation with a Kaleida supervisor about how “generational differences” contributed to the conflict that led, at least in part, to her alleged forced retirement. [Citation omitted.]

The court concluded that, taking plaintiff’s as true, it was plausible that her age and gender were motivating factors in the decision to force her to retire.

Share This: