Citing Lack of Remarks or Different Treatment, Court Dismisses Mexican Woman’s Discrimination Claims

In Locorriere v. NBTY, Inc., No. 13CV7277, 2016 WL 625618 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 2016), the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of race/ethnicity and national origin discrimination, disability discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, and constructive discharge.

Plaintiff, a female of Mexican national origin, worked for defendant as an inspector. She alleged, among other things, that she suffered discrimination due to a “respiratory problem” (a reaction to a substance at one of defendant’s facilities) “and in response to her condition, she was forced to undergo a drug test, transferred to a different shift at a different plant without receiving an increase in pay, and then transferred to a customer service role to be ‘set up for failure,’ and then offered severance so that she would resign.”

As to her discrimination claims, after reviewing defendant’s “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the alleged adverse employment actions”, the court concluded:

Even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff and drawing all inferences in her favor, plaintiff has not presented evidence from which a rational jury could find that defendant’s nondiscriminatory reasons are pretextual. First, plaintiff does not allege that anyone made remarks regarding her national origin or alleged disability. Second, although she claims generally that Mexican employees and American employees were treated differently, she offers no specific examples of such different treatment. Although plaintiff alleges that being drug tested constituted a discriminatory action, defendant’s policy was to drug test all employees involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury on company property or company time and, in fact, they drug screened a number of employees, of varying positions, after the employee received medical treatment. (See Ex. I to Def.’s Mem. of Law, at NBTY 942–48, 1721–37.) Accordingly, plaintiff has pointed to nothing in the record that could support a rational inference that any adverse employment actions resulted from a discriminatory animus toward plaintiff because of her Mexican origin or alleged disability, or any other discriminatory reason. Therefore, no rational jury could conclude that defendant’s reasons were pretextual.

In sum, viewing the evidence as a whole, it is clear that plaintiff’s discrimination claim, at its core, simply rests on conclusory allegations that she was discriminated against because she is Mexican and suffered an alleged disability. However, she does not proffer any evidence to support her discrimination claims. Plaintiff’s conclusory allegations that she was subject to discrimination cannot create any reasonable inference that discrimination motivated any adverse employment action. (Emphasis added.)

The court proceeded to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of

  • retaliation (noting, e.g., that “although plaintiff speculates that defendant retaliated against her for complaining of discrimination, even she admits that there were legitimate reasons underlying the warnings she received”);
  • hostile work environment (noting, e.g., that “plaintiff has put forth no evidence from which a rational jury could conclude that her workplace was permeated with ‘discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult … that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment”); and
  • constructive discharge (noting, e.g., that “there is no indication that defendant deliberately made plaintiff’s working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person in her position would have felt compelled to resign.”).
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