In Brouillard v Sunrun, No. 2020-03610, 518516/19, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 04184, 2023 WL 5063992 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., Aug. 09, 2023), the court affirmed the lower court’s denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim of disability discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.
The court summarized the facts as follows:
The plaintiff alleged that on December 12, 2018, the defendant offered him a job as a field sales consultant. He further alleged that he had certain conditions that rendered him disabled, including congenital bilateral dislocated patellas, patella alta, hypoplastic patella, and a dextro convex scoliotic curvature, and caused him to suffer from general chronic pain and chronic pain in his knees. On or about December 12, 2018, the New York State Department of Health issued the plaintiff a medical marijuana program registry identification card, which, the plaintiff alleged, deemed him as having a disability under the Executive Law (see Public Health Law § 3369). After taking a pre-employment drug test, the defendant informed the plaintiff that he had tested positive for marijuana. Although the plaintiff explained that he had a prescription for medical marijuana to treat his conditions and provided the defendant his medical marijuana program registry identification card and other documents, the defendant rescinded the job offer.
Notably, the court affirmed the court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claim of disability asserted under the New York State Human Rights Law. As such, this decision illustrates the comparative breadth of the NYC law relative to its state counterpart.
From the decision:
The NYCHRL provides broader protections than the NYSHRL (see Romanello v. Intesa Sanpaolo, S.p.A., 22 NY3d at 885). To state a cause of action to recover damages for employment discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the NYCHRL, a complaint must allege that the plaintiff was disabled and was discriminated against based on their disability (see id.). Here, the complaint sufficiently alleged that the plaintiff was disabled and was discriminated against based on his disability.
We find unavailing the defendant’s contention that the complaint failed to state a cause of action to recover damages for employment discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the NYCHRL because the defendant chose not to hire the plaintiff based only on his positive drug test and not his disability. Refusing to hire the plaintiff because he tested positive for marijuana while knowing that he was being treated with marijuana by a licensed physician for a medical condition effectively denied the plaintiff the opportunity of a reasonable accommodation, and therefore, under these circumstances, is appropriately recognized as a cognizable cause of action to recover damages for employment discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the NYCHRL.
Based on this, the court held that plaintiff stated a cognizable New York City Human Rights Law claim.