Real Estate Agent Established Claim of Retaliatory Termination Against Brown Harris Stevens of Hamptons

In Claud v. Brown Harris Stevens of Hamptons, LLC, No. 2:18-CV-01390-NRM-ST, 2023 WL 3858677 (E.D.N.Y. June 7, 2023), the court held that plaintiff established unlawful retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

From the decision:

Here, BHSH’s articulated reason for firing Claud was not its actual reason. The termination’s temporal proximity to Claud’s reports of discrimination, procedural irregularities, and circumstantial inconsistencies—all underpinned by the lack of credibility of BHSH’s primary decisionmaker—readily meet Claud’s burden of establishing that BHSH’s reason for firing Claud was pretextual.

In sum, I conclude that (1) BHSH’s proffered reason for firing Claud was, in fact, wholly pretextual, and (2) the actual reason Claud was summarily terminated as an agent with BHSH was retaliation—i.e., a consequence of the fact that Claud had just reported to BHSH’s Executive Managing Director, Cia Comnas, what Claud perceived to be a pattern of unlawful race-based discrimination by her direct supervisor, who was also Comnas’s close colleague and direct report. The evidence at trial clearly established that BHSH did not fire Claud because of any good-faith concerns about her professionalism or temperament. Instead, BHSH seized on a single negative phone call from a third party as a golden opportunity to terminate the firm’s only Black real estate agent, just two weeks after that agent had the courage to raise serious concerns about race discrimination by the Southampton office’s senior manager.

Having concluded that defendant was liable for unlawful retaliation, the court proceeded to explain the damages to which plaintiff was entitled (including “significant” emotional distress in the amount of $300,000.

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