Discrimination Claims Dismissed; Termination Based on Plaintiff’s Misconduct, Not Unlawful Discrimination

In Poppito v. Northwell Health, Inc., 15-cv-7431, 2019 WL 3767504 (EDNY Aug. 9, 2019), the plaintiff alleged that she was terminated due to her age, gender, and protected activities. The court, noting defendants’ citation of “an enormous catalog of misconduct by plaintiff”, grants defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

After summarizing the burden-shifting framework applicable to plaintiff’s claims, the court noted that plaintiff did not appropriately respond to defendant’s Local Rule 56.1 Statements.

The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that the evidence supporting defendant’s assertions constituted hearsay, noting that “most of the hearsay statements are offered not for the truth of the matter, but rather to provide insight into defendants’ thought process in taking disciplinary action against plaintiff.” This was significant, since “[i]n a discrimination case … [the court is] decidedly not interested in the truth of the allegations against plaintiff. We are interested in what ‘motivated the employer.”

Defendants’ evidence (effectively admitted by plaintiff) clearly indicated the reasons for plaintiff’s termination, including “negative appraisals and complaints from various sources concerning plaintiff’s interactions with patients, coworkers, family members, visitors, and vendors” and disciplinary action/complaints.

The court concluded that “defendants have offered legitimate, unrebutted reasons for plaintiff’s termination, to wit: plaintiff’s repeated and serious violations of workplace policies, poor job performance and inappropriate conduct with respect to patients and coworkers” which “undisputed facts clearly establish a legitimate, non-pretextual basis for her termination.”

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