National Origin Discrimination Claim, Based on Association With Russian Persons, Sufficiently Alleged Under NYC Human Rights Law

In Lapko v. Grand Market Intern. Corp., No. 514403/2019, 2020 WL 4818702, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 32711(U) (N.Y. Sup Ct, Kings County Aug. 12, 2020), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim of national origin “discrimination by association” claim asserted under the New York City Human Rights Law.

From the decision:

[U]nlike the [New York State Human Rights law] and Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964], the [New York State City Rights Law] specifically prohibits employment discrimination against individuals by virtue of their association with actual or perceived members of a protected class. Administrative Code § 8-107(20) specifically provides: “The provisions of this section set forth as unlawful discriminatory practices shall be construed to prohibit such discrimination against a person because of the actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status of a person with whom such person has a known relationship or association” (emphasis supplied).

Thus, the NYCHRL prohibits discrimination against an individual because of his known relationship or association with a person who is actually or perceived to be a person of a specific national origin. The definition of “person” for purposes of NYCHRL is broad and encompasses “one or more natural persons, proprietorships, partnerships, associations, group associations, organizations, governmental bodies or agencies, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers” (Admin. Code § 8-102).

Applying the law – and giving plaintiff’s a “liberal construction” (as it must, in the context of the present motion to dismiss) – the court held that plaintiff’s allegations “sufficiently allege that the plaintiff was discriminated against because of his ‘known’ relationship and association with those of Russian origin, who are a protected class.”

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