Race, Perceived Disability Discrimination Claims Sufficiently Alleged Under NYC Human Rights Law

In Perez v Y & M Transportation Corporation, No. 2021-02890, 518884/20, 2023 N.Y. Slip Op. 04675, 2023 WL 6134310 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., Sep. 20, 2023), the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the denial of defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.

While the decision does not elaborate on the facts, it provides a succinct overview of the operative law:

The NYCHRL makes it unlawful for an employer or an employee or agent thereof, as relevant here, to discriminate against a person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s actual or perceived race or disability (Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 8–107[1][a][3] ), to retaliate or discriminate in any manner against a person because that person has opposed such discrimination (Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 8–107[7] ), or to aid or abet another in such discrimination (Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 8–107[6] ). A court must construe all provisions of the NYCHRL “broadly in favor of discrimination plaintiffs, to the extent that such a construction is reasonably possible” (Albunio v. City of New York, 16 NY3d 472, 477–478; see Administrative Code of City of N.Y. § 8–130; Golston–Green v. City of New York, 184 AD3d 24, 34–35).

Here, the Supreme Court properly denied those branches of the defendants’ motion which were to dismiss the first and second causes of action insofar as asserted against them. Accepting the facts as alleged in the complaint as true, and according the plaintiff the benefit of every possible favorable inference, the complaint sufficiently alleges disparate treatment under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination based on the plaintiff’s race and perceived disability (see Ayers v. Bloomberg, L.P., 203 AD3d 872, 874; Golston–Green v. City of New York, 184 AD3d at 36–38), a hostile work environment (see Golston–Green v. City of New York, 184 AD3d at 42; Nelson v. HSBC Bank USA, 87 AD3d 995, 999), and retaliation in violation of the NYCHRL.

It held, however that plaintiff’s complaint failed to state a cause of action for aiding and abetting discrimination insofar as asserted against the individual defendant, who “may not be held liable for aiding and abetting his own violation of the NYCHRL.”

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