Title VII Sex Discrimination Claim Dismissed; Alleged Comparators Were Not “Similarly Situated” to Plaintiff

In Grastorf v. Community Bank, N.A., No. 19-CV-1627S, 2023 WL 2266336 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2023), the court, inter alia, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s sex-based discrimination claim.

Here, plaintiff’s case falters because she could not demonstrate that she was treated worse than a “similarly situated” person outside her protected class. The decision is, thus, instructive on that point.

From the decision:

While Plaintiff is in a protected class for her gender, endured an adverse employment action in her termination, and her qualifications to perform her former job is not questioned, Grastorf has not demonstrated that her termination was under circumstances that rise to an inference of sex discrimination.

Grastorf attempts to assert an inference of discrimination from her comparison of her treatment with that of two employees who were allowed to leave work. She cites Ms. Beardsley as a comparable employee, but a female employee citing another female employee as a comparative belies a gender discrimination claim. Furthermore, Plaintiff was branch manager while Ms. Beardsley was a retail branch assistant at a different branch, not similarly employed. Grastorf has not alleged Ms. Beardsley had management obligations or work that required leaving the branch to conclude their duties were similar. Ms. Beardsley also regularly notified her supervisor when she left early and Plaintiff allegedly did not adequately notice the Bank when she left.

The other comparator Plaintiff notes is Mr. Knapp. Again, their circumstances are different. Mr. Knapp is a business development officer at a different branch, a job that required performance out of the office, an allegation Plaintiff denies having sufficient information to respond to. Plaintiff was branch manager and thus expected to be there. She argues that her job required travel, meeting customers who could not come to the branch. Grastorf, however, does not cite instances when she left the branch to meet with customers or develop business. Also, Grastorf does not mention Mr. Knapp’s managerial duties to make his job similar to that of a branch manager.

[Cleaned up.]

Based on this, the court concluded that defendant’s “treatment of Ms. Beardsley and Mr. Knapp (as compared with how it treated Grastorf) does not give rise to an inference of discrimination.”

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