Raises Given to Others Supports Race Discrimination Claim

In Dunn v. URS Corp., 13-cv-6626 (SDNY Jan. 12, 2015), the Southern District of New York held that plaintiff, an African American man, sufficiently alleged race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Plaintiff alleged that defendants failed to promote him, paid him less than what similarly situated employees received, failed to rehire him for an available position for which he was qualified, and terminating him, all because he is African American.

“To succeed in a claim of disparate treatment, a plaintiff ultimately must establish a prima facie case by demonstrating that: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) her job performance was satisfactory; (3) she suffered adverse employment action; and (4) the action occurred under conditions giving rise to an inference of discrimination.”

The court held that plaintiff plausibly alleged all four elements. As to the fourth, it explained:

[C]construed liberally as required, this pro se plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to give rise to an inference of race-based discrimination. Dunn states that during a meeting with [Jeff] Vladkya [, Program Executive on defendant URS’ East Side Access Project] on August 22, 2011, in which Dunn requested a salary increase, Vladkya told him that the MTA was not approving salary increases and that he would look out for any changes to that policy in the remainder of the year. Indeed, Dunn attaches an email from Vladkya dated August 17, 2011 in which Vladkya provides the plaintiff notice prior to their August 22 meeting of the MTA policy against salary increases. Dunn notes that approximately one-and-a-half months after the meeting, he discovered that many URS employees and subcontractors had either received salary increases or were in the process of securing such increases, and that none of those employees were of African–American descent. In fact, the Complaint states that Vladkya himself had submitted letters to the MTA’s Chief Finance Officer assigned to the ESA Project in support of the pay raises. Dunn proceeds to list, non-exhaustively, the dates of the letters and the names of the 12 applicants to whom the letters correspond. The plaintiff has met his initial burden.

The court rejected plaintiff’s failure to promote claim, however, because he did not allege that he applied for a higher position. The court explained: “Dunn states that he pursued, and was unsuccessful in obtaining, a salary increase. A promotion and a pay raise are not the same, as demonstrated by the fact that if Dunn had been awarded a salary increase, his title would not have changed.”

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