Police Officer’s Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claims Sufficiently Alleged, First Department Holds

In Harrington v. City of New York, 2018 NY Slip Op 00381, 2018 WL 503144 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Jan. 23, 2018), the Appellate Division, First Department modified a lower court order and reinstated plaintiff police officer’s claims for sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claims, the court explained:

The parties do not dispute that plaintiff has sufficiently pleaded the first three elements of discrimination, to wit, plaintiff is part of a protected class due to his sexual orientation, he was qualified for the position of police officer, having previously served for seven years before voluntarily resigning, and he was treated adversely by having a psychological hold placed on his application and then being found to have failed the evaluation. However, defendants contend that plaintiff has not pleaded facts from which discrimination can be inferred. We disagree. Plaintiff alleged that he had passed six prior law enforcement psychological evaluations, in New York, California, Arizona, and Missouri, before defendants deemed him psychologically unfit for a position with the NYPD, and that in finding others psychologically fit defendants had given preferential treatment to similarly situated heterosexual applicants. Plaintiff further alleged that he was the only applicant whose application had been placed on a psychological review for over 15 months.

In his renewal motion, plaintiff provided further support from which to infer discrimination. He submitted the psychological report of his independent clinical psychologist demonstrating his fitness to serve. This report, which did not exist when defendants moved to dismiss, was properly before the court on renewal. Moreover, the report did not need to be in admissible form at this point because the underlying motion was to dismiss[].

The foregoing, taken together, and affording plaintiff the benefit of every favorable inference, establishes prima facie that defendants discriminated against plaintiff on account of his sexual orientation in finding him psychologically unfit to serve.

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