Religious Discrimination Claim Dismissal Affirmed Against Mt. Sinai Hospital

In Bauman v. Mount Sinai Hospital, 2020 NY Slip Op 01964 (App. Div. 1st Dept. March 19, 2020), the court unanimously affirmed the lower court’s Order dismissing (on summary judgment) plaintiff’s claims that he was subjected to religion-based discrimination and retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law.

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

Defendants proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for temporarily suspending plaintiff in 2005 for allegedly administering a pill to his patients that induces labor, at his office and without his patients’ knowledge, requiring him to enter into an interim agreement that partially restored his hospital privileges pending investigation, and ultimately terminating his position for violating the interim agreement (see Forrest v Jewish Guild for the Blind, 3 NY3d 295, 305 [2004]). Plaintiff failed to raise an issue of fact as to whether defendants’ explanations were pretextual (see id.) or whether discrimination was one of a number of motives for their decisions (see Bennett v Health Mgt. Sys., Inc., 92 AD3d 29, 40-41 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 18 NY3d 811 [2012]).

There is no evidence in the record supporting plaintiff’s contention that defendants’ employment decisions were motivated by animus toward his Orthodox Jewish faith. Nor is there evidence tending to establish a nexus between any alleged discriminatory behavior toward plaintiff’s patients by nurses and another physician and the employment decisions underlying plaintiff’s claim (see Godbolt v Verizon N.Y. Inc., 115 AD3d 493 [1st Dept 2014], lv denied 24 NY3d 901 [2014]). The employment decisions followed a 10 year history of warnings, monitoring and interim suspensions regarding plaintiff’s practices in caring for his patients admitted to the hospital. Some of the prior complaints concerned claims that plaintiff was admitting more patients to the hospital for labor and delivery than he could personally handle and that he did not provide for adequate cover by other physicians. After investigation, although the hospital could not determine whether plaintiff induced labor without his patients’ consent, it did conclude that he was overworked and did not have adequate support. This history well preceded his complaints of discrimination against his patients.

As to plaintiff’s retaliation claim, the court rejected plaintiff’s reliance on temporal proximity of his internal complaints and the adverse employment actions, noting that plaintiff was “engaging in similar conduct that prompted numerous disciplinary measures in the 10 years preceding the 2005 allegations.”