National Origin Discrimination Claims Proceed Against NYC Dept. of Education

In Brown v. New York City Dept. of Educ., No. 157642/2020, 2023 WL 173201, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 30106(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 12, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s national origin discrimination claims (in part) against the NYC Dept. of Education.

From the decision:

With respect to plaintiff’s discrimination claims based on national origin, her allegations of discriminatory animus are largely sufficient to state the claim. The allegations – that she was given an excessive workload, subjected to heightened scrutiny and discipline, and, ultimately, given an unmerited U rating, while the other assistant principal at her school, who is not Antiguan, was not – are sufficient, at this preliminary stage of the litigation, to permit an inference of discrimination based on national origin.

Notably, defendants argue that because the complaint alleges that the other assistant principal lacked plaintiff’s experience, he/she is not similarly situated to plaintiff and no inference of discrimination can arise from their disparate treatment. A similar argument was accepted in Matter of Mcintosh v Department of Educ. of City of N.Y., where, in dismissing the discrimination claims of and African-American teacher, the court noted that “[h]er allegations about the Caucasian teachers also contain no indication that they were probationary like her, subject to the same standards as her, or engaged in conduct comparable to her own.” The Appellate Division, First Department reversed, based on the “liberal pleading standards applicable to employment discrimination claims under the State and City Human Rights Law.” So here, too, plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient, at this preliminary state of the litigation, to state claims for discrimination based on national origin under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL.

[Cleaned up.]

The court did, however, hold that plaintiff’s national origin discrimination claims – based on the denial of compensation for working extended periods on Mondays and Tuesdays – were insufficient, since plaintiff offered no facts permitting an inference of discriminatory animus, but merely speculation.

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