Employment-New York Court of Appeals Rules That Plaintiff Has Provided Sufficient Evidence Of Discrimination And Retaliation Claims Under New York Law To Withstand Motion To Dismiss

In Sandiford v. City of New York Department of Education, No. 157, the New York Court of Appeals rules that the plaintiff has introduced evidence sufficient to withstand defendants’ motion to dismiss her discrimination and retaliation claims under provisions of the New York City and NewYork State Human Rights Laws, arising out of her termination for misconduct as a school aide by the principal of PS 181 in Brooklyn.

The Court found that triable issues of fact exist as to whether the principal’s stated reason for terminating plaintiff was merely a pretext for discrimination, and whether, absent a discriminatory motive, the referral of plaintiff to the Office of Special Investigation and the principal’s subsequent decision to terminate plaintiff would have occurred.

The Court said that the defendants are of course correct that evidence only that the principal made stray discriminatory comments without any basis for inferring a connection to the termination would be insufficient to defeat defendants’ motion. But that is not the case here. Plaintiff has offered evidence of, among other things: defendant principal’s repeated homophobic remarks directed at plaintiff; his decision to report to the Department of Education (the “DOE”) allegations that plaintiff had engaged in misconduct while working at an after-school program that he did not supervise; his close relationship with the alleged victims of the misconduct; his independent decision to terminate plaintiff’s employment; and the after-school program supervisor’s opinion that plaintiff had not engaged in any misconduct worthy of reporting to the DOE.