Employment Discrimination Claims Against NYS Dept. Motor Vehicles Dismissed on Sovereign Immunity (Eleventh Amendment) Grounds

In Calise v. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, 17-cv-791, 2018 WL 4350247 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 12, 2018), plaintiff, a white woman, asserted claims of race discrimination – based on alleged mistreatment by her boss, who is black – under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

In dismissing her (non-Title VII) claims, the court explained:

“[A]s a general rule, state governments may not be sued in federal court unless they have waived their Eleventh Amendment immunity, or unless Congress has abrogated the states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity.” Gollomp v. Spitzer, 568 F.3d 355, 366 (2d Cir. 2009) (internal quotations omitted). “[T]he immunity recognized by the Eleventh Amendment extends beyond the states themselves to state agents and state instrumentalities that are, effectively, arms of a state.” Id. (internal quotation omitted).

Plaintiff’s claims do not fall within an exception to state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. “New York has not waived its immunity and consented to suit in federal court under [Section] 1981 or [Section] 1983, and Congress’s enactment of [Section] 1981 and [Section] 1983 did not override the immunity that the states and their agencies enjoy under the Eleventh Amendment.” Cajuste v. Lechworth Developmental Disabilities Serv., 2005 WL 22863, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 5, 2005) (internal citations omitted).

Likewise, New York has not waived its sovereign immunity for NYSHRL or NYCHRL claims in federal court. Feingold v. New York, 366 F.3d 138, 149 (2d Cir. 2004) (NYCHRL); Widomski v. State Univ. of N.Y. (SUNY) at Orange, 933 F. Supp. 2d 534, 554 n.16 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (NYSHRL), aff’d, 748 F.3d 471 (2d Cir. 2014).

The court, therefore, dismissed plaintiff’s claims under the alleged statutes, except Title VII.

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