Citing “Stray Remarks” Doctrine, 2d Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Employment Discrimination Claims

In Eyuboglu v. Gravity Media, LLC, 2020 WL 1280675 (2d Cir. March 17, 2020) (Summary Order), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The court based its decision, in part, on the so-called “stray marks” doctrine: “While discriminatory remarks may constitute evidence of discrimination, in some circumstances they may amount to no more than stray remarks that are not sufficient to support a jury verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.”

From the decision:

Here, even assuming that Eyuboglu presented evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination and/or retaliation, we conclude that no reasonable jury could find that she was dismissed for a discriminatory or retaliatory reason. As Eyuboglu conceded, she informed Gravity that she was looking for another position, and Gravity presented evidence that this was the motivation for her dismissal. Further, only one of the allegedly discriminatory comments identified by Eyuboglu referenced her nationality or religion — the comment by a co-worker that she was a “Turkish dominant” — and only one comment — that Eyuboglu’s eyes “looked weird” — was made by a decision-maker. J. App’x at 32-33. Indeed, Eyuboglu testified that she did not believe the person who fired her was biased against Muslims or Turkish persons.
The comments are therefore properly considered “stray remarks” insufficient to support a claim of discrimination.

The court also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s retaliation claim, finding that plaintiff did not submit sufficient evidence that defendant knew of plaintiff’s alleged “protected activity” (here, the filing of an EEOC charge).

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