National Origin Discrimination, Retaliation Claims (Involving, in Part, Twin Brother’s Lawsuit) Survive Dismissal

In Ajoku v. Contento et al, No. 158941-2021, 2022 WL 17733380 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Dec. 09, 2022), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim of national origin discrimination and retaliation claims asserted under the New York State Human Rights Law.

Specifically, plaintiff alleged that he “has been harassed and treated less well by his ill-trained supervisors simply because he was not born in the United States and his twin brother filed a national origin discrimination lawsuit against these same defendants, in violation of job safety rules that prohibit retaliation and discrimination in the workplace.”

While the court dismissed plaintiff’s New York City Human Rights Law claims on the grounds of sovereign immunity and lack of subject matter jurisdiction, it held that

However, contrary to defense counsel’s contention, plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to support his NYSHRL-based claims against both OTDA/Contento and the Individual Defendants on an aiding and abetting theory. Specifically, plaintiff claims that he has been isolated from his peers, given an excessive workload, has been given inconvenient work locations, false disciplinary memos, denied overtime and improperly instructed. It has already been inferred at the CPLR 3211-stage that Contento was aware of plaintiff’s twin bother’s national origin. Otherwise, plaintiff has properly alleged that Contento and the other Individual Defendants condoned, were a part of or were otherwise aware of the continuing discrimination and retaliation against plaintiff.

Based on this, the court denied this branch of defendants’ motion to dismiss.

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