Court Grants Summary Judgment Dismissing “Pattern or Practice” Religious Discrimination Claim

In Smith v. St. Joseph’s Medical Center et al, 2024 WL 2058619 (S.D.N.Y. May 7, 2024), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s “pattern or practice” discrimination claim.

The court explained the “black letter law” applicable to this theory as follows:

A pattern or practice theory of discrimination requires a plaintiff to establish that “discrimination was the company’s standard operating procedure—the regular rather than the unusual practice.” Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324, 336 (1977). Supreme Court precedent “sets a high bar for the prima facie case the Government or a class must present in a pattern-or-practice case: evidence supporting a rebuttable presumption that an employer acted with the deliberate purpose and intent of discrimination against an entire class.” United States v. City of New York, 717 F.3d 72, 87 (2d Cir. 2013). Pattern or practice of discrimination cases are often characterized by a “heavy reliance on statistical evidence.” Reynolds v. Barrett, 685 F.3d 193, 203 (2d Cir. 2012). A plaintiff’s unsupported personal beliefs cannot provide the sole evidence of a pattern or practice of discrimination.

Applying the law, the court held that plaintiff – who alleged that she was discriminated against by being terminated for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – “has not alleged any specific instance of discriminatory animus, nor is there any statistical, circumstantial, or anecdotal evidence present from which a reasonable jury could find discrimination was defendants’ standard operating procedure or which otherwise supports a pattern or practice of discrimination[.]”

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