Employment Discrimination Claims Properly Dismissed on Res Judicata Grounds in Light of Arbitration

In Murphy v. Citigroup Global Markets et al, No. 1182 5, 2020 WL 4005846 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., July 16, 2020), the First Department unanimously affirmed the dismissal, on res judicata grounds, of plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims.

The court wrote:

The discrimination claims which plaintiff seeks to assert in the first two causes of action of the instant complaint “aris[e] out of the same transaction or series of transactions” as the claims resolved in the prior arbitration between himself and the corporate defendants herein (O’Brien v. City of Syracuse, 54 N.Y.2d 353, 357 [1981]; Carol v. Madison Plaza Apts. Corp., 137 AD3d 453, 453 [1st Dept 2016] ). Plaintiff offers no response to the defense of res judicata, other than that his discrimination claims were not arbitrable. Plaintiff, however, has failed to make any showing in support of the non-arbitrability of those claims at the time they were decided.

It further noted that, at the time of plaintiff’s arbitration, Section 7515 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules – which, in sum, prospectively prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses, except where inconsistent with federal law – was not yet in effect.

Finally, the court tersely and without elaboration held that plaintiff failed to state a claim for hostile work environment, even under the “maximally protective New York City Human Rights Law.”

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