Court Bars Questions About Prior Confidentially-Resolved Discrimination Lawsuit

In Dubey v. Visiting Nurse Service of New York, No. 158452/2022, 2024 WL 1973051 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Apr. 30, 2024), the court denied defendant’s motion to compel deposition questions to which plaintiff objected on the ground of confidentiality.

From the decision:

In this action alleging employment discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of the State and City Human Rights Laws, as well as negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, Defendants move for an order compelling Plaintiff to answer questions regarding a prior lawsuit. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Less than two years before this action was filed, Plaintiff commenced an action against a prior employer alleging the same claims. That action settled with Plaintiff signing a Confidentiality Agreement. At Plaintiff’s deposition in this action, Defendants questioned Plaintiff about the earlier action. Plaintiff refused to answer, citing the Confidentiality Agreement. This motion followed.

Defendants contend the information sought is relevant because Plaintiff claims to have suffered emotional distress in both actions, and thus they should be able to explore whether the prior conduct contributed to or caused the distress he claims here. In opposition, Plaintiff maintains he cannot breach his Confidentiality Agreement and that he has given Defendants access to all discovery relevant to his claim for damages by signing medical authorizations.

While some questioning regarding the prior action might lead to information material and necessary in this action (CPLR 3101; Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 21 NY2d 403, 406 [1968]), the relief sought herein, an order “compelling Plaintiff to answer deposition questions concerning his lawsuit against one of his former employers” is too broad.

Based on this, the court denied defendants’ motion without prejudice, while noting that defendants may file another motion for more specific relief.

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