Court Upholds Jury’s Finding for Plaintiff on National Origin Discrimination Claim

In Saber v. New York State Department of Financial Services, 15-cv-5944, 2018 WL 3491695 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2018), the court, inter alia, upheld a jury verdict that defendant discriminated against plaintiff – by not promoting him – because of his national origin (Iranian).

Among the evidence of discrimination was a comment that plaintiff was “hiding yellow cake in his cubicle” – referring to the atomic bomb component – in front of plaintiff and his colleagues.

This, along with other evidence, was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict in favor of plaintiff:

Defendant also argues that the jury verdict should be set aside because the only evidence supporting a finding of discriminatory intent in not promoting Plaintiff to the CRMS position is Logan’s single comment—that Plaintiff was hiding yellow cake in his cubicle. Defendant overlooks substantial circumstantial evidence of discrimination including the following: despite being inexperienced and not having been recommended for hiring, Cappello was hired for the CRMS position instead of Plaintiff, who was highly educated, knowledgeable and experienced in the work for DFS; Plaintiff was later made to educate Cappello, who had no prior experience in the field and had technical deficiencies; when the CRMS position reopened, Bumgardner was hired for the CRMS position, despite her having been ranked last for hiring after the January 2014, interview; neither Cappello nor Bumgardner was Iranian or Muslim; ever since the October 2011 merger, DFS has targeted banks to enforce the U.S. sanctions against Iran; around the same time, the only other Iranian Muslim at DFS besides Plaintiff, who was also highly qualified and educated, was demoted from a senior position. This is not an instance where “there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict” as to justify overturning a jury verdict.

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