Race Discrimination Claims Against Comcast Survives Summary Judgment

In Boutin v. Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC, 3:21-CV-1630 (SVN), 2023 WL 4564375 (D.Conn. July 17, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s race-based discrimination claims.

In this case, plaintiff alleges that he was given a smaller raise, resulting from a negative performance evaluation, than he believed was warranted, because of his race and color.

From the decision:

Here, the Court holds that a reasonable jury could find in Plaintiff’s favor on his discrimination claims, so summary judgment would be inappropriate. Plaintiff testified that Gunning told him that, based on an investigation Gunning conducted, Plaintiff “didn’t have any issues” with his “numbers” in 2019, and Plaintiff’s “numbers” for 2019 did not show that he was ineffective. While the evidence on this issue is not robust, a jury could perceive Plaintiff’s testimony about Gunning’s representations as contradicting Defendant’s proffered reason for Plaintiff’s 2019 rating and resulting 0.5% raise. A reasonable jury could find, based on Gunning’s comments, that Plaintiff’s performance was not in fact quantitatively ineffective. A reasonable jury could further find, based on Lopez-Santos’ playing of the rap song and comment about Plaintiff’s complexion resembling that of a serial rapist, that Lopez-Santos harbored possible discriminatory animus and that such animus may have played a role in Plaintiff’s “Off Track” rating and resulting lower raise. Importantly, Lopez-Santos provided input for the rating and participated in the calibration meeting where the rating was confirmed.

Based on this, the court held that the evidence of the comments, together with plaintiff’s prima facie case, are sufficient to withstand summary judgment as to plaintiff’s discrimination claims.

While the court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s discrimination claims, it held that the playing of the rap song – which featured the “n-word” several times – was insufficient to create a “hostile work environment.”

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