Age Discrimination Claims Survive Summary Judgment; Evidence Included Age-Related Comments and Hiring of Younger Replacement

In Doyle v. Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, 20 CV 2087 (NSR), 2023 WL 4297192 (S.D.N.Y. June 30, 2023), the court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s age discrimination claims asserted under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and New York State Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

Plaintiff presents a litany of circumstances that, considered collectively, raise the plausible inference that Defendant discriminated against her due to her age. This includes Plaintiff’s allegations that: (1) she was told by another employee that Gomez “does not like people over [the age of] 40”; (2) Mastronardi and Gomez each questioned Plaintiff regarding her retirement plans, even though Plaintiff did not intend to retire in the near term (or communicate that she intended to do so); and (3) Gomez only interacted meaningfully with younger employees when he visited her branch. Here, it is also worth noting that Defendant hired Denise Romero, who was 35 years old at the time of her hiring, to replace Plaintiff as manager of the Branch.

In light of the allegations pertaining to Gomez’s discriminatory statements and conduct, the Court finds that a material issue of fact exists as to whether Defendant’s proffered reason for terminating Plaintiff was a pretext for age discrimination. Plaintiff offers a credible body of allegations indicating a pattern of discriminatory comments and employment actions directed at herself and other older employees, which is supported by Tuey-Bigelow. It is also undisputed that Plaintiff was replaced with a much younger employee. Significantly, courts in this district have routinely denied motions for summary judgment with respect to age discrimination claims where analogous age-related derogatory comments were directed at an employee who later suffered an adverse employment action, despite the existence of an ostensibly legitimate basis for that action.

[Cleaned up.]

In support, the court cited cases standing for the proposition that summary judgment is inappropriate in age discrimination cases where the evidence included discriminatory comments.

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