Age Discrimination Claims Properly Dismissed; Comments re Not “Fitting In” and “Catching On” Insufficient

In Rinaldi v. Paul Mills, NICE, Christine Bonamarte, NICE Systems, Inc., NICE-Actimize, Richard Malish, Barak Eilam et al, 2022 WL 17480081 (2d Cir. Dec. 7, 2022), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s age discrimination claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

From the decision:

Here, the parties do not dispute that Rinaldi established a prima facie case of age discrimination, nor that Defendants offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating Rinaldi’s employment—namely, dissatisfaction with his work performance. Accordingly, our inquiry focuses on whether Rinaldi has raised sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable factfinder could conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that his age was a “but-for” cause of his termination. S

Setting aside any unsupported and speculative claims, Rinaldi’s strongest evidence of age discrimination is that his supervisor said he was being fired for not “fitting in” or “catching on” like his younger colleague. Without more, this comment is not enough to prove age discrimination. Further, the evidence is particularly unpersuasive here because the same supervisor also hired Rinaldi less than two years earlier.

NYCHRL discrimination claims are analyzed separately from ADEA and NYSHRL claims. Under the NYCHRL, Rinaldi need only demonstrate any causal link between age bias and his firing.

[Cleaned up.]

The court thus concluded that since plaintiff’s “only evidence of such a causal link is his supervisor’s stray comment, no reasonable factfinder could find that [he] made this showing.”

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