Religious Discrimination Claim Dismissed; No Link Between Allegedly False Charge of Viewing Pornography and Plaintiff’s Religion

In Stathatos v. William Gottlieb Management, 18-cv-03332, 2020 WL 1694366 (E.D.N.Y. April 6, 2020), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint alleging religion-based discrimination asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Initially, the court held that plaintiff’s claim was subject to dismissal based on grounds of untimeliness and failure to exhaust administrative remedies (in that he did not first file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within three hundred days of the allegedly discriminatory act).

However, explained the court, even if plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies, his religious discrimination claim was factually deficient.

As to that point, the court explained:

Here, plaintiff fails to proffer any facts that address any claims of religious discrimination in his complaint. He discusses his religion in two conclusory statements. The first time the plaintiff discusses his religion, he states that he “began a cilibato which is the wearing of white for one year and seven days as per the tenants of Santeria [sic].” ECF No. 25 at 1. The second time plaintiff mentions his religion is at the end of his complaint, to say: “[m]y life has been irrevocably altered by practicing Santeria and expression devotion to my saints. Exercising my first amendment right continues to cost me things that I can hardly quantify …”. Compl. at 3. The remainder of plaintiff’s complaint involves descriptions of the administrative proceeding before the New York State Department of Labor, where his colleagues testified that he viewed pornography on his work computer. There is nothing in the complaint or reply linking the allegations of pornography watching to any form of religious or other discrimination. As plaintiff himself writes: “[o]n July 25th, 2013 I was written up and suspended without pay for allegedly viewing pornography on my work station.” Id. Drawing all reasonable inferences, it appears that plaintiff attempts to allege that he was falsely charged with viewing pornography on his work computer, “as a grounds for my termination.” Both the complaint and Stathatos’ opposition to defendants’ motions to dismiss, plaintiff fails to allege any facts from which to infer that his religious practice of Santeria motivated his employer to charge him falsely.

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