In Bayat v. Accenture Corporation LLC, 2023 WL 3563037 (2d Cir. May 19, 2023), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court’s order granting summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff’s discrimination claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
From the decision:
With respect to Bayat’s discrimination claim, Bayat has failed to establish a prima-facie case for two reasons. First, he proffered no evidence to show that he was “qualified for the position[s]” for which he applied. Id. The record reflects that Bayat sought roles that were above his seniority level, that required skills that Bayat did not possess, and that were outside of Bayat’s “daily commutable distance.” Supp. App’x at 66–67; see also id. at 54–55; Dist. Ct. Doc. No. 123 ¶¶ 55–57.
Second, Bayat failed to present evidence that Accenture’s staffing practices gave “rise to an inference of discrimination.” Reynolds, 685 F.3d at 202 (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, Bayat offers nothing more than bareboned assertions that Accenture gave preferential treatment to South Indian employees on H-1B visas. He identifies no invidious comments made by Accenture and makes no showing that “similarly situated” South Indian employees were selected for projects instead of Bayat. See Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 39–40 (2d Cir. 2000).1 Nor can Bayat rely on statistical evidence that Accenture sponsored many H-1B visas to demonstrate discriminatory effect. The fact that Accenture hired employees with visas does not, “standing alone,” support an “individual disparate[-]treatment action, [since] the particular employee must establish that he has been discriminated against because of his race.” Hudson v. Int’l Bus. Machs. Corp., 620 F.2d 351, 355 (2d Cir. 1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). We therefore agree with the district court that “Bayat has failed to [prove] a prima[-]facie case of discrimination or disparate treatment under Title VII.” Supp. App’x at 194.2
Additionally, even if we were to assume that a prima-facie case has been established, Bayat fares no better under the remaining two prongs of the McDonnell Douglas test. Declarations from Bayat’s supervisors reflected that negative client feedback and concerns over Bayat’s tardiness and lack of critical work skills were the drivers in his termination. These are sufficient to satisfy the second prong of the McDonnell Douglas framework. And while Bayat responds in a conclusory manner that “his work was acceptable” and that ”his colleagues praised him in performance reports,” he cites to no evidence suggesting that Accenture’s proffered reasons were pretextual.
This case, like so many others, illustrates that demonstrating “pretext” in an employment discrimination case is no easy feat.