Probationary Teacher’s Termination Upheld; Alleged Learning Disability Did Not Form Basis For Discrimination Claim

In Matter of Tenenbein v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 2019 NY Slip Op 08940 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Dec. 12, 2019), the court affirmed the dismissal of claims asserted by the plaintiff – a probationary employee – under the New York Civil Service Law (§ 75-b), and the New York City Human Rights Law.

As to the Civil Service Law claim, the court held:

Petitioner failed to show that his dismissal was in bad faith, as the record demonstrates a history of poor work performance, including tardiness to meetings, insubordination, and ineffective teaching methods (see Matter of Almonte v Department of Educ. of City of N.Y., 132 AD3d 505 [1st Dept 2015]; Matter of Soto v Koehler, 171 AD2d 567, 568 [1st Dept 1991], lv denied 78 NY2d 855 [1991]). There is no support for petitioner’s argument that the unfavorable classroom observations of him were “subjective and meritless,” and his claims regarding Civil Service Law § 75-b fail because respondent demonstrated an independent basis supporting the discontinuance of petitioner’s probationary employment (see Roens v New York City Tr. Auth., 202 AD2d 274, 275 [1st Dept 1994]).

As to plaintiff’s discrimination claim, the court explained:

Petitioner further fails to show that any conduct or comments by respondent’s staff members were based on his alleged learning disability. The comments made by staff members did not reference his disability (see Forrest v Jewish Guild for the Blind, 3 NY3d 295, 308 [2004]). Since petitioner failed to state a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law, his discrimination claims also fail under the federal and state anti-discrimination laws

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