Caregiver-Status Discrimination Claim Sufficiently Alleged Against NYC Health & Hospitals Corp.

In Tarantul v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., No. 159425/2020, 2022 WL 159587 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 18, 2022), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s “caregiver status” discrimination claim asserted under the New York City Human Rights Law, finding that such claim was sufficiently alleged. (The court also denied defendant’s motion with respect to plaintiff’s retaliation claim, but granted it with respect to plaintiff’s disability discrimination/failure-to-engage-in-cooperative-dialogue claim.)

From the decision:

This Court is cognizant that the NYCHRL is intended to provide uniquely broad and remedial protections for the civil rights of all persons within the statute’s scope and, thus, it broadly construes NYCHRL § 8-107 in favor of discrimination to maximize deterrence of discriminatory conduct (Bennett, 92 AD3d at 34 [1st Dept 2011] [citing § 8-130 of the NYCHRL]). Additionally, this Court also takes judicial notice that, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers like Plaintiff have been faced with the difficult decision whether to send their vaccinated and/or below-vaccination age children to childcare in order to continue being employed.

Plaintiff makes a prima facie claim of employment discrimination by alleging that she is a member of a protected class as a mother of three minor children, was fully qualified for her position as a WIC counselor, having been employed since 2018, and was in a position to continue working in that capacity via remote means or another arrangement, and was declared AWOL and later terminated from her employment on or about June 22, 2020 — nearly a month after she submitted a formal complaint of caregiver status discrimination. Plaintiff need not allege that she was both treated adversely and differently (Askin, 110 AD3d at 622 Santiago-Mendez, 136 AD3d at 428).

Based on this, the court rejected defendant’s contention that a dismissal is warranted based on the Commissioner’s guidance as “unpersuasive at this stage.”

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