Race, National Origin Discrimination Claims Against Bagatelle Survive Summary Judgment

In Shi v. Batgatelle International, Inc., 220-cv-8473 (ER), 023 WL 4187557 (S.D.N.Y. June 26, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s race and national origin discrimination claims.

While defendant alleges that it terminated plaintiff due to her performance, plaintiff alleges that she was terminated because of her race, national origin (Chinese), disability, and perceived disability.

As to her race and national origin discrimination claims, the court explained:

Here, the declarations Shi submitted allege both that Bagatelle communicated no concerns as to her performance and that at least one other Bagatelle employee witnessed and personally experienced King discriminate against Shi and other Asian-American employees. Bagatelle’s declarations state the exact opposite: that King was never discriminatory, and Shi performed poorly. The evidence in this case is thus, essentially, two competing sets of declarations concerning Bagatelle’s motivations. Courts are cautious in granting summary judgment in employment discrimination cases where the employer’s intent is at issue, Holcomb, 521 F.3d at 137, and are not empowered to make credibility determinations at summary judgment, Reeves, 530 U.S. at 142. Thus, the competing declarations raise, at minimum, genuine disputes of material fact as to the reasons for Shi’s termination, and the Court accordingly cannot grant Bagatelle summary judgment on Shi’s Title VII and NYSHRL claims for race and national origin discrimination. See Holcomb, 521 F.3d at 137.

Moreover, the NYCHRL was “designed to be ‘broader and more remedial’ than Title VII.” See Hornig v. Trs. of Colum. Univ., No. 17-cv-3602 (ER), 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60683, at *34 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2022) (quoting Davis-Bell v. Columbia Univ., 851 F. Supp. 2d 650, 671 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)); see also Bright-Asante v. Saks & Co., No. 15-cv-5876 (ER), 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47354, at *14 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2020) (stating that, to defeat summary judgment on an NYCHRL claim, a plaintiff “need only show that her employer treated her less well, at least in part for a discriminatory reason,” and an employer “is entitled to summary judgment on this basis only if the record establishes as a matter of law that ‘discrimination play[ed] no role’ in its actions,” even where the employer presents evidence of its legitimate, non-discriminatory motives (quoting Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux N. Am., Inc., 715 F.3d 102, 110 n.8 (2d Cir. 2013))). Thus, where a plaintiff’s claims survive even under the more stringent Title VII standard, they necessarily meet the standard under the NYCHRL as well. See Hornig, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60683, at *39. Summary judgment on Shi’s NYCHRL claims for race and national origin discrimination is also therefore denied.

The court, however, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to her disability discrimination claims.

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