Race and National Origin Discrimination Claims Sufficiently Alleged Against 64th St. Auto Parts

In Jimenez v. 64th St. Auto Parts Inc., No. 153409/2020, 2021 WL 2416508 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County June 11, 2021), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of race and national origin discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

In sum, as summarized by the court, plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to derogatory comments about their national origin and treated less well than other employees – such as being asked to perform “less desirable jobs” – because of their race and national origin, and when they complained to defendants about the treatment they were laughed at and then fired.

From the decision:

Here, plaintiffs have pled that they are members of a protected class. They allege that they worked at their respective positions for some time, indicating to this Court that they were qualified to hold them. Plaintiffs have also pled that they were subject to derogatory insults and harassment because of their race and national origin (plaintiffs are Hispanic and hail from the Dominican Republic), and include several alleged verbatim statements from defendants that target their race and national origin. Lastly, plaintiffs allege that “Defendants terminated Plaintiffs’ employment because they complained about the harassment and discrimination they endured and because of their race and national origin” (NYSCEF Doc. No. 37 at 7). Plaintiffs claim that their employment was terminated unlawfully, as a result of their complaining about the insulting comments, thereby providing an alleged causal connection between the protected activity and their termination. Plaintiffs have also pled that the foregoing gives rise to an inference of discrimination.

Plaintiffs have sufficiently pled violations under NYSHRL. Defendants challenge plaintiffs’ allegations as untrue but, at best, defendants’ arguments raise issues of fact. As explained by the Second Department of the Appellate Division, documents with content that is “essentially undeniable” would qualify as “documentary evidence” (Fontanetta, 73 AD3d at 85) The court further explains that documents such as mortgages, deeds, and contracts are “essentially undeniable” and would qualify as “documentary evidence” in the proper case. The Larosa affidavit is not “essentially undeniable” and does not offer conclusive proof in support of a motion to dismiss; testimony, just because it is written down, does not magically transform into documentary evidence. Rather, the affidavit at issue only offers defendants’ side of the story. Because plaintiffs have properly pled their claims under NYSHRL, the motion is denied with respect to the first, second, third, and fourth causes of action.

The court also concluded that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged claims under the New York City Human Rights Law, noting that defendants’ “argument and affidavit to the contrary only raise issues of fact to the allegations made by plaintiffs” and, therefore, did not warrant dismissal.

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