Disability Discrimination Claims Survive Dismissal; Court Cites Closeness in Time Between Hospitalization and Termination

In Innes v. County of Warren et al, 1:22-cv-641 (BKS/TWD), 2024 WL 865864 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 29, 2024), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s disability discrimination claims.

As to plaintiff’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the court explained:

Plaintiff alleges the following facts. Approximately an hour and a half after returning from the hospital following an allergic reaction, “Plaintiff was notified that she had been terminated.” (Dkt. No. 30, ¶¶ 59–61). The same day, Plaintiff received a termination letter from CBH’s Corporate Human Resources Assistant indicating that the reason for Plaintiff’s termination was because her security clearance was revoked. (Dkt. No. 30, ¶¶ 62–63; Dkt. No. 30-5). Plaintiff subsequently filed a Freedom of Information Law request to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office seeking documentation as to the cause of the loss of her security clearance but was told that the Office had no responsive records. (Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 65; Dkt. No. 30-7). When Plaintiff attempted to follow up on the cause of her termination, the Warren County Sherriff’s Office informed Plaintiff “that her security clearance was ‘pulled’ because of her ‘separation from employment’ with CMC.” (Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 66; Dkt. No. 30-8). However, the Director of Human Resources at CMC “advised Plaintiff that her clearance had been revoked by Warren County Sherriff’s Office” and that the day prior to Plaintiff’s termination, the County provided notice of this revocation to CMC. (Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 67; Dkt. No. 30-9). Additionally, the CMC Director of Human Resources refused to release a copy of this notification, claiming “[i]t is not our practice to share or release communications between CMC and our clients by request.” (Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 68; Dkt. No. 30-9).

Here, the closeness in time between Plaintiff’s hospitalization and her termination, along with the contradictory nature of the reasons provided for her firing, both allow for an inference that she was terminated as a result of her perceived disability. To the extent that CMC Defendants contest that any Defendant was involved in Plaintiff’s termination, she has identified that a Corporate Human Resources Assistant for CBH provided her with a termination letter. (See Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 62; Dkt. No. 30-5). And the CMC Director of Human Resources stated that “we,” implying CMC, “received communication from the Warren County Sherriff’s Office” rescinding Plaintiff’s security clearance—the ostensible reason she was terminated from CBH. (See Dkt. No. 30, ¶ 67; Dkt. No. 30-9). Accordingly, Plaintiff has made the required showing of causation. CMC Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims under the ADA is therefore denied with respect to CMC and CBH.

Having determined that plaintiff stated a claim under the ADA, it likewise denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims under the comparatively lenient New York State Human Rights Law.

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