Sex Discrimination Claim Plausibly Alleged by Upstate Official

In Julie Richmond v. Alan J. Sorensen, 22 CV 10075 (VB), 2023 WL 4239083 (S.D.N.Y. June 28, 2023), the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s sex discrimination claim asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment.

After summarizing the black-letter law – and noting that where, as here, the “color of law” requirement is met an equal protection claim parallels a claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the court applied it to the facts:

Here, drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff’s favor—as the Court must at this early stage—she plausibly alleges facts giving rise to a minimal inference that her termination was motivated by discriminatory intent.

Plaintiff, a woman, alleges she was terminated as deputy commissioner and temporarily replaced by a man who had previously served as deputy commissioner. Further, as part of plaintiff’s termination, defendant (a man) also allegedly decided to assume plaintiff’s role as director of the County Transportation Council.

Although plaintiff acknowledges the deputy commissioner role was not filled on a permanent basis, even temporary replacements with an individual outside of a plaintiff’s protected class suffice to raise a minimal inference of discriminatory intent. See Ragin v. Riverbay Corp., 2020 WL 3440278, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2020) (in gender discrimination case, plaintiff’s temporary replacement by person of the opposite gender is sufficient), aff’d, 2021 WL 4057196 (2d Cir. Sept. 7, 2021) (summary order); see also Williams v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ., 2018 WL 4735713, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2018) (in age discrimination case, a court “may look to the age of either a temporary or permanent replacement in evaluating whether an inference of discrimination is appropriate”).

In addition, plaintiff’s allegation that defendant (a man) stripped her of her position as director of the County’s Transportation Council and assumed that role himself further supports an inference of discrimination.

Defendant attempts to proffer extrinsic evidence of County job postings for the deputy commissioner position to support his argument that plaintiff’s “position was never permanently filled by a male.” (Doc. #9 (“Def. Mem.”) at 6; see also Doc. #8-2). However, these documents are neither incorporated by reference in, nor integral to, the complaint, and therefore, the Court may not consider them in deciding the instant motion. See DiFolco v. MSNBC Cable L.L.C., 622 F.3d 104, 111 (2d Cir. 2010).

Based on the foregoing, the court concluded that “[a]t this early stage of the case, plaintiff has satisfied her minimal burden of plausibly alleging her termination from employment comprised sex discrimination.”

Share This: