Age Discrimination Claim Survives Dismissal; Allegations Included Plaintiff’s Replacement by Younger Worker

In Beshaw v. MVP Service Corp., 1:21-cv-584 (GLS/CFH), 2022 WL 4094451 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2022), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s age discrimination claim.

From the decision:

MVP contends that Beshaw has failed to allege facts that give rise to an inference of discrimination with respect to his claim for age discrimination under the ADEA. Specifically, MVP argues that the statements from Barbero and Titsworth about how the legal affairs department could benefit from hiring younger counsel were not discriminatory and were “stray remarks” spoken more than a year before Beshaw’s termination. Beshaw maintains that these statements are more than mere “stray remarks” as they were spoken by the decision-makers in his termination. Additionally, Beshaw asserts that, without considering the statements from Barbero and Titsworth, he has still demonstrated an inference of discrimination because he was the oldest senior counsel, the only senior counsel who’s position was eliminated while other senior counsel with less seniority were retained, and was replaced by someone younger and with less experience than him.

In order to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination, Beshaw must show “(1) that [he] was within the protected age group, (2) that [he] was qualified for the position, (3) that [he] experienced adverse employment action, and (4) that such action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.” Gorzynski v. JetBlue Airways Corp., 596 F.3d 93, 107 (2d Cir. 2010). To show that the circumstances surrounding an adverse employment action give rise to an inference of discrimination, the plaintiff may point to, among other things, remarks made by the employer which reflect a discriminatory animus as well as the treatment of similarly situated younger employees. See Williams v. PMA Companies Inc., 564 F. Supp. 3d 32, 50 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2021); Hamilton v. Mount Sinai Hosp., 528 F. Supp. 431, 446 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2007).

While Barbero and Titsworth’s statements were made over a year before Beshaw’s termination, and are thus far too remote on their own to give rise to an inference of discrimination, see Lively v. WAFRA Investment Advisory Group, 6 F.4th 293, 306-07 (2d Cir. 2021), Beshaw has nonetheless alleged facts that give rise to an inference of discrimination. Specifically, Beshaw alleges that he was the oldest senior counsel and the only senior counsel who’s position was eliminated, while younger senior counsel’s positions were not, and that he was replaced by a younger individual.

[Cleaned up.]

Based on this, the court denied defendant’s motion as to this claim.

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