2d Dept. Affirms Dismissal of Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

In Andaya v. Atlas Air, Inc., 2017 NY Slip Op 00141 (App. Div. 2d Dept. Jan. 11, 2017), the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the lower court’s order[1]Andaya v. Atlas Air, Inc., NY Sup. Ct., Westchester Cty., Index No. 58877/2012, Sept. 25, 2014 granting defendant summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law.

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claim, the court held:

The defendant established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the cause of action to recover damages for employment discrimination pursuant to Executive Law § 296 by showing that it had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating the plaintiff’s employment, and that there were no triable issues of fact as to whether its explanation for the termination was pretextual. In opposition to the motion, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the reason proffered by the defendant was merely pretextual.

Since this is devoid of facts, reference to the lower court’s decision for context may be helpful. According to that decision, plaintiff alleged, among other things, that a co-director made anti-gay comments to plaintiff (including calling him a “fucking fag”).

In granting summary judgment to defendant, the court (inter alia) characterized the alleged anti-gay comments as “stray discriminatory comments” unconnected to plaintiff’s termination, noted that plaintiff did not allege that he suffered any anti-gay discrimination during an 8-year period, and cited/applied the so-called “same actor inference”.

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