Age Discrimination Sufficiently Alleged by Long Island University (Brooklyn) Professor, Court Holds

In Rogoff v Long Island University, No. 510388/2019, 2020 WL 337067, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 30147(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, Kings County Jan. 21, 2020), the court held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged age discrimination under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

From the decision:

Turning to plaintiff’s claims based on New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law, while it is true that courts are reluctant to intervene in controversies involving purely academic determinations of educational institutions, “the fact that an employer is an educational institution does not permit it to discriminate against its employees on the basis of age, or otherwise insulate it from liability for violations of the New York State Human Rights Law or the New York City Human Rights Law” (Wander v. St. John’s Univ., 99 A.D.3d 891, 893, 953 N.Y.S.2d 68, 71). “To state a cause of action alleging age discrimination under the New York Human Rights Law (Executive Law § 296), a plaintiff must plead facts that would tend to show (1) that he or she was a member of a protected class, (2) that he or she was actively or constructively discharged or suffered an adverse employment action, (3) that he or she was qualified to hold the position for which he or she was terminated or suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) that the discharge or adverse employment action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination” (Godino v. Premier Salons, Ltd., 140 A.D.3d 1118, 1119, 35 N.Y.S.3d 197, 199). To state a cause of action alleging age discrimination under the New York City Rights Law, the pleading requirements are essentially the same (Melman v. Montefiore Med. Ctr., 98 A.D.3d 107, 113, 946 N.Y.S.2d 27, 31). Plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently states all these elements.

Defendant’s contention that plaintiff fails to state an adverse employment action is without merit. If plaintiff establishes that he was contractually entitled to a one year sabbatical at the same salary he was receiving as Dean and a salary of 75% of his Deanship salary when his position as Dean termination, plaintiff’s allegations that he was not provided with these benefits **8 can certainly be construed as adverse employment action. As fully discussed above, plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleges in the complaint that he was entitled to these benefits despite defendant’s claim to the contrary. Further, plaintiff’s allegations that several older deans were removed from their positions and that President Cline told him that his views were outdated and old fashion and that the University would flourish when he and other members of the old guard ceased to apply their outdated standards were sufficient, at this stage of the proceedings, to meet the pleading requirement that the alleged adverse employment actions occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of age discrimination.