Treating Older Worker Worse Than Younger Co-Workers Sufficient to Allege Age Discrimination

In Grigoryou v. Pallet Serv., Inc., No. 13-CV-00526AM, 2015 WL 1647139 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2015), the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s age discrimination claims based on theories of disparate treatment (termination) and hostile work environment.

Plaintiff (who is 51 years old) alleged, for example, that most of the other employees were between 20 and 30 and that only one employee was older than him, that on several days his supervisor forced him to perform a certain task alone and that none of the other employees were required to do so, and that while other employees rotated positions, he was “stuck at the same position all day every day” and his supervisor “knew this and did nothing about it.”

As to plaintiff’s wrongful termination claim, the court noted that “the Amended Complaint, liberally interpreted, alleges that plaintiff was treated less favorably than his younger co-workers” and concluded that “[t]hese allegations are sufficient at th[e pleading] stage to support an inference of age discrimination in connection with plaintiff’s termination.”

As to plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, the court explained that “[t]he discriminatory motive aspect of a …. hostile work environment can be shown in a number of ways, including by providing evidence of disparate treatment between young and old employees.” Plaintiff’s allegations that he was subjected to adverse treatment that younger workers were not subjected to were sufficient to state a hostile work environment claim.

Finally, the court held that plaintiff “sufficiently alleged that the hostile work environment which he experienced may be imputed to defendant”, since his complaint “alleges that plaintiff’s supervisor was responsible for creating the hostile work conditions or, at minimum, had knowledge of the hostile work conditions created by the employees and did nothing to stop it.”

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