Race Discrimination Claim Survives Summary Judgment Against NYC Department of Education

In Herrera et al v. New York City Department of Education et al, 1:21-cv-7555-MKV, 2024 WL 245960 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 23, 2024), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs’ (who are white) race-based discrimination claim asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In sum, as summarized by the court, “[p]laintiffs are white women who contend that they held high-level positions at the DOE until Defendants implemented a discriminatory policy of considering race that caused Plaintiffs to be demoted and sidelined in favor of less qualified ‘candidates of color.'”

After finding that there was evidence of one or more “adverse employment actions” (including “significantly diminished material responsibilities”), the court determined that there was sufficient evidence to support an inference of race-based discrimination.

Noting that “[a]t this stage, Plaintiffs’ burden to show circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination is low,” the court proceeded to explain the basis for its decision.

It cited, for example, evidence offered by plaintiffs that they were not demoted because of poor performance; that they were replaced with lesser-qualified individuals of a different race; that defendants did not hold “open, competitive hiring processes to replace them” (from which a jury could infer that defendants “were motivated by race, instead of merit, when they replaced” them); and evidence of “invidious comments” about their protected characteristic.

Share This: