NYCHRL Age Discrimination Claim Properly Dismissed

In Smith v. Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op 03455, 2018 WL 2139339 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept. 2018), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s age discrimination claim under the NYC Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

The motion court correctly granted summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Plaintiff, who was 81 years old when terminated, failed to raise an issue of fact whether defendants’ reasons for terminating his employment were pretextual (see Melman v. Montefiore Med. Ctr., 98 A.D.3d 107, 113–114, 946 N.Y.S.2d 27 [1st Dept., 2012].

Defendants demonstrated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for their decision. Specifically, in mid–2013, as they awaited the budget for fiscal year 2014, defendant Federal Defenders of New York, Inc. (FDNY), was facing a fiscal crisis and budget cuts. Having already employed furloughs and layoffs of attorneys and non-attorney staff, but having not yet made cuts in the administrative staff, defendant David Patton, FDNY’s Executive Director (who was in his 40’s), terminated plaintiff’s position. Patton explained that he had chosen plaintiff because other administrators were office managers who were crucial to the operation of branch offices. Patton felt the FDNY could get by with only administrative assistant Mao or administration officer plaintiff, and he chose Mao because she was faster and more efficient at giving him information he needed, and because the Office of Defender Services had, during an assessment of FDNY’s operations in 2011, told Patton that it was very impressed” with Mao, and had not said the same of plaintiff.

Reductions in work force for economic reasons are a legitimate nondiscriminatory basis for termination of employment.

The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that he was terminated before the 2014 budget was known, reasoning that “it suffices that defendants had a good faith belief that FDNY’s funding would be reduced, and that personnel action was required.” It further noted that the defendant retained at least 10 other

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