Retaliation Claim Survives Dismissal Against NYC DOE

In Sosa v. New York City Department of Education, 18-cv-411, 2020 WL 1536348 (E.D.N.Y. March 31, 2020), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims of retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), based on adverse employment actions committed by defendants after plaintiff filed complaint of discrimination with the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

After finding that plaintiff sufficiently alleged that she suffered an “adverse employment action”, the court turned to the issue of causation.

As to that point, the court explained:

Plaintiff has also sufficiently alleged that the adverse employment actions were caused by her protected activity given the temporal proximity between the two events. As noted supra, “[a] retaliatory purpose can be shown indirectly by timing: protected activity followed closely in time by adverse employment action.” Vega, 801 F.3d at 90. Plaintiff filed her CCHR Charge on January 12, 2017 (Am. Compl., Dkt. 33, ¶ 101; see also January 2017 CCHR Charge, Dkt. 1-2, at 3) and alleges that Defendants’ began retaliating in mid-February by placing the disciplinary letter in her file after she took sick days on February 15 and 17 as well as changing the rules relating to bathroom and classroom access at a February 13th staff meeting (Am. Compl., Dkt. 33, ¶¶ 43, 49, 54, 56). This temporal proximity is sufficient to support an inference that Defendants acted with a retaliatory purpose. See De Figueroa, 403 F. Supp. 3d at 157 (“There is no firm outer limit to the temporal proximity required, but most courts in the Second Circuit have held that a lapse of time beyond two or three months will break the causal inference.”); Lambert v. Trump Int’l Hotel & Tower, 304 F. Supp. 3d 405, 423 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (noting that though “[t]he Second Circuit has not established a bright line to define the outer limits beyond which a temporal relationship is too attenuated[,] … the passage of about two months between the protected activity and the adverse action appears to be the approximate dividing line”).

Having reached this conclusion as to plaintiff’s ADA and NYSHRL claims, it necessarily reached the same conclusion as to the “more lenient” NYC Human rights Law claim.