Age Discrimination: A Dismissal and Some Judicial Guidance for the Amended Complaint

In Katz v. The New York Historical Society, 19-CV-8637, 2019 WL 6529325 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2019), the court dismissed plaintiff’s age discrimination complaint, which it construed as asserting claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

As to the substantive law, the court explained:

The ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer to “discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age.” 29 U.S.C. § 623(a). The ADEA protects workers who are at least 40 years old from discrimination because of age. Feldman v. Nassau Cnty., 434 F.3d 177, 180 (2d Cir. 2006); see 29 U.S.C. § 631(a) (“The prohibitions in this chapter shall be limited to individuals who are at least 40 years of age.”). Although the ADEA does not provide a claim for individual liability, see, e.g., Leon v. Rockland Psychiatric Ctr., 232 F. Supp. 3d 420, 435 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) (noting that “there is no individual liability under … the ADEA”), a plaintiff may seek relief against individual defendants under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws (HRL), see Abdu–Brisson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 239 F.3d 456, 466 (2d Cir. 2001) (age discrimination suits brought under the State HRL and City HRL are subject to the same analysis as claims brought under the ADEA). The State HRL provides for individual liability for “any person” who aids and abets an employer’s discrimination. N.Y. H.R.L. § 296(6). The City HRL makes it “an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce the doing of any of the acts forbidden under this chapter, or to attempt to do so.” N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8–107(6).

While the court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint, it permitted him to amend his complaint.

Regarding the amended complaint, the court provided the following directive:

To the greatest extent possible, Plaintiff’s amended complaint must:

a) give the names and titles of all relevant persons;

b) describe all relevant events, stating the facts that support Plaintiff’s case including what each defendant did or failed to do;

c) give the dates and times of each relevant event or, if not known, the approximate date and time of each relevant event;

d) give the location where each relevant event occurred;

e) describe how each defendant’s acts or omissions violated Plaintiff’s rights and describe the injuries Plaintiff suffered; and

f) state what relief Plaintiff seeks from the Court, such as money damages, injunctive relief, or declaratory relief.

It concluded by noting that “the body of Plaintiff’s amended complaint must tell the Court: who violated his federally protected rights; what facts show that his federally protected rights were violated; when such violation occurred; where such violation occurred; and why Plaintiff is entitled to relief.”

As such, this decision is instructive as to what a court (at least this one) looks for – both in terms of the information alleged and the manner in which it is organized – when evaluating an employment discrimination complaint for facial sufficiency.

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