National Origin Discrimination Claim Proceeds; National Origin of Alleged Discriminator Was Not a “Material” Issue

In Tatas v. Ali Baba’s Terrace, Inc. et al, 2022 WL 18027620, (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 30, 2022), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion for reconsideration of the court’s prior order that there existed a genuine issue of material fact on plaintiff’s race and national origin discrimination claims.

In sum, in this case the plaintiff (who is Kurdish) claims that he was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment – based on his Kurdish ethnicity (as well as a disability) – by defendant Ali Baba’s Ali Riza Dogan, as well as two former co-workers.

From the decision:

Defendant seeks reconsideration of this Court’s conclusion that a genuine dispute exists as to Dogan’s Kurdish national origin. Doc. 123. Defendants argue that reconsideration is warranted because this Court “overlooked facts establishing, as a matter of law, that … there is no actionable dispute as to Dogan’s Kurdish national origin.” Id. at 8. They contend the Court failed to outline what specifically supported the conclusion that there is a genuine issue of fact as to Dogan’s national origin.

On reconsideration, the Court finds that there is no genuine dispute that Dogan is Kurdish. Nevertheless, this does not bar a finding of racial discrimination against Tatas, as Dogan’s nationality is not a material fact in this case. A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Senno v. Elmsford Union Free School District, 812 F. Supp. 2d 454, 467 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).

Defendants argued that the discrimination claims based on Tatas’ race and national origin were less plausible because Dogan himself is Kurdish and that there is a strong implication that a member of a protected class would not discriminate against another member of that class. See Doc. 129 at 6, see also Doc. 122 at 18. While courts do draw an inference against discrimination in those cases and it may be a strong consideration, it is not dispositive and “it is not impossible for an individual of a protected class to discriminate against others who are also members of the class ….” See Hauptman v. Concord Fabrics, No. 98 Civ. 1380 (LBS), 1999 WL 527970, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 22, 1999).

[Cleaned up.]

The court concluded that “[a]ccepting that Dogan is Kurdish does not affect the Court’s conclusion that Defendants failed to demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Tatas established an inference of discriminatory intent, thus precluding summary judgment.”

Share This: