Race Discrimination Claims Dismissed as Time-Barred; Continuing Violation Doctrine Held Inapplicable

In Preston v. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Ctr., 2019 NY Slip Op 31493(U), Index No. 160325/2018 (NY Sup. Ct. NY Cty. May 29, 2019), the court dismissed plaintiffs’ race/color discrimination claims, asserted under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws, as time-barred, finding that the “continuing violations doctrine” did not apply.

Plaintiffs alleged discrimination with respect to promotions, titles, job and shift assignments, work scheduling, and compensation.

The court explained that “[w]here there is a series of continuing wrongs, the continuing wrong doctrine tolls the limitation period until the date of the commission of the last wrongful act.”

Initially, it noted that plaintiffs’ pay discrimination claims under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL “are each governed by a three-year statute of limitations” and, citing First Department precedent, explained that “discriminatory wage claims are discrete, individual wrongs.” Thus, “[b]ecause pay discrimination claims are individual wrongs, the continuing violation doctrine does not apply to them” and, therefore, “plaintiffs’ pay discrimination claims are time-barred for all compensation plaintiffs received before November 6, 2015.”

The court reached the same conclusion regarding plaintiffs’ failure-to-promote claims,  since they related to events that occurred more than three years before plaintiffs filed their lawsuit.

Likewise for plaintiffs’ claims regarding alleged discriminatory actions regarding overnight shifts, job assignments, and work schedule accommodations, since such claims “each constitute a discrete act” and “[p]laintiffs failed to demonstrate in their complaint that these actions went on for an extended period of time so as to create a pattern and policy of discrimination.”

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