Race Discrimination Claims Dismissed Against NYC Dept. of Sanitation

In Hernandez v. New York City Department of Sanitation, 18-CV-1808, 2018 WL 5447540 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2018), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race discrimination claims – reasoning that the complaint did “not allege facts sufficient to give rise to an inference of discriminatory intent on the part of Defendants.”

Here is its summary of the law:

Discriminatory intent is an essential element of both a Title VII and a § 1981 claim, whether based on a theory of discrimination or hostile work environment. To survive a motion to dismiss a Title VII discrimination claim, a plaintiff must plausibly allege that his employer took adverse employment action against him, and that “his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was a motivating factor in the employment decision.” Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 87 (2d Cir. 2015); Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 45 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted) (“[T]he same core substantive standards that apply to claims of discriminatory conduct in violation of Title VII are also applicable to claims of discrimination in employment in violation of § 1981 ….”). Similarly one of the elements of a race-based hostile work environment claim is conduct that creates a hostile or abusive environment “because of [the] employee’s protected characteristic, such as race or national origin,” although the protected characteristic need not be “the only motivating factor.” Rivera v. Rochester Genesee Reg’l Transp. Auth., 743 F.3d 11, 20, 23 (2d Cir. 2014) (alteration, emphasis and internal quotation marks omitted). With respect to discriminatory intent, at this initial stage, “[t]he facts required by Iqbal to be alleged in the complaint need not give plausible support to the ultimate question of whether the adverse employment action was attributable to discrimination. They need only give plausible support to a minimal inference of discriminatory motivation.”

Applying the law, the court concluded that “[t]he only specific facts that the Complaint pleads relating to race are that the Defendant supervisors are Caucasian, while Plaintiff is African American” and that its “other references to race are entirely conclusory[.]”

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