Disability Discrimination Claim, Arising From Withholding of Christmas Bonus, Survives Summary Judgment

In Belvin v. Electchester Management, LLC, 17-CV-6303 (NGG) (PK), 2020 WL 7262877 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 10, 2020), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim, based on the “adverse action” of denying plaintiff his Christmas bonus.

From the decision:

Mr. Mayers has adduced sufficient evidence from which a juror could reasonably conclude EML discriminated against him by withholding his bonus in 2014. Denial of a bonus is an adverse employment action. See, e.g., Terry, 336 F.3d at 138. Therefore, the only issue to address is whether EML denied Mr. Mayers the bonus because of his disability. Mr. Mayers asserts he was denied his bonus while out on sick leave in December 2014.7 During his deposition, he clarified that the bonus porters generally receive is essentially a tip contributed by the tenants in the building. (Mayers Tr. at 191:17-192:3.) EML collects these tips and distributes them to the porters during the holidays. Because Mr. Mayers was on leave in December 2014, Mr. Belvin went to retrieve Mr. Mayers’s bonus for him. However, when Mr. Belvin asked Mr. Wiley about Mr. Mayers’s bonus, Mr. Wiley reportedly responded that management had told him that Mr. Mayers would not be getting a bonus that year.8 (Id. at 193:9-13.) While Mr. Mayers does not claim that anyone from management told him he was being denied a bonus because of his disability, a reasonable juror could, given the circumstances, infer that management did not want to give him his share of the Christmas tips because he was absent for part of the year—an absence caused by his disability. See, e.g., McMillan, 711 F.3d at 129 (finding the plaintiff “was tardy because of his disability and that he was disciplined because of his tardiness. In other words, McMillan was disciplined because of his disability”). Mr. Mayers accordingly succeeds in stating a prima facie case of disability discrimination on this basis, which EML fails to rebut. While EML notes that Mr. Mayers received a prorated bonus in 2015, it does not deny that it failed to award Mr. Mayers a 2014 bonus. Accordingly, Mr. Mayers’s claim for disability discrimination based on the denial of his 2014 Christmas bonus may proceed to trial under both the ADA and NYCHRL.

So while it is unclear (from this decision) whether plaintiff’s employer is a cheap, lying, etc. etc. etc., his bonus-denial claim will proceed to trial.

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