Religious Discrimination Claims Survive Dismissal; Termination Followed Advising Patient to Pray

In Patalonis v. Outreach Development Corp., 19-CV-01306, 2021 WL 5013796 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2021), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s religious discrimination claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law.

As to Title VII, the court explained:

To establish a claim for employment discrimination on the basis religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, plaintiff must plausibly allege that: (1) her employer took adverse action against her and that (2) her religion was a substantial or motivating factor in the employer’s decision to take the action. Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801 F. 3d 72, 85-6 (2d Cir. 2015) (explaining the elements of a Title VII discrimination claim).

Patalonis pleaded in her complaint that Outreach, as her employer, terminated her employment based on her Christian faith, as evidenced by the firing occurring shortly after she advised a patient to pray. Parties do not dispute that Outreach, as Patalonis’s employer, terminated her employment. See ECF 26-3 at 7. This satisfies the first element of Patalonis’s Title VII claim. Defendant argues, however, that Patalonis was fired because she broke Outreach’s code of conduct, not because of her religion. This is another question of fact that cannot be resolved at this stage. In the context of a Title VII claim, a “complaint need not contain specific facts establishing a prima facie case […] but instead must contain only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ ” (Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A. 534 U.S. 506, 506 (2002) (quoting FRCP 8(a)(2)). The complaint describes the events that transpired leading up to Patalonis’s termination and demonstrates a connection between her religion and the adverse action that Outreach took sufficient to reach the liberal standard required to defeat a 12(b)(6) motion. Therefore, Defendant’s motion is denied with regard to count two.

The court reached the same conclusion under the New York State Human Rights Law, which requires the establishment of the same elements as under Title VII.

Share This: