Discriminatory Pay & Wrongful Termination Claims Sufficiently Pleaded

In Palmer v. Shchegol, No. 14-cv-4406, 2016 WL 5678544 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2016), the court dismissed some, but not all, of plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims.

Plaintiff – described in the decision as “a fifty-year-old United Kingdom native who describes herself as a dark-skinned black woman” – asserted claims of disparate treatment, discriminatory pay, and wrongful termination.

The court held that plaintiff’s claim that she was discriminated against due to the alleged “disparate allocation of chairperson resources” was untimely, as she did not file her EEOC charge until 300 days after her promotion to the position of department chairperson.

It held, however, that plaintiff’s discriminatory pay and wrongful termination claims were both timely filed and adequately pled. As to the substance of her claims, the court explained:

From the decision:

Here, Plaintiff identifies five Comparators younger than herself and outside of her other protected classes: three white women, and two black men.3 Plaintiff alleges that four of these Comparators were chairpersons, like herself, and one was a department coordinator, but states that all held responsibilities equivalent to her own and were similarly ranked. (Opp’n ¶¶ 10, 13; Compl 4.) Plaintiff further maintains that each Comparator was treated more favorably than she was. (Opp’n ¶¶ 14-19.) Specifically, she alleges she was paid less than each Comparator and was terminated despite being “more academically qualified” than at least one other comparator who was not fired. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) The allegations underlying Plaintiff’s time-barred disparate treatment claim – that Plaintiff was denied the administrative resources and office space the other comparators received – lend further support to plaintiff’s timely discrimination claims. … Together, these allegations raise an inference of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and age sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

The court, however, held that plaintiff failed to state a claim of discrimination based on her national origin or skin tone.

In addition, the court rejected defendants’ reliance on the “same actor” inference (noting that that doctrine is “typically applied at summary judgment”), as well as the argument that plaintiff “cannot rebut the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason Defendants proffer for her termination” (reasoning that “[w]hether there existed non-pretextual, non-discriminatory explanations for the defendants’ employment decisions—a question as to which the defendants bear the burden of production—is not properly decided on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.”).

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