NYPD Detective’s Failure-to-Promote Discrimination Claims, Based on Age and National Origin (Russian), Sufficiently Alleged Under NYS & NYC Human Rights Laws

In Pelepelin v. City of New York, No. 12535, 154246/18, 2019-5743, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 07291, 2020 WL 7061886 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Dec. 03, 2020), the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged a discriminatory failure to promote claim under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

The court summarized the facts as follows:

Born in Russia in 1967, plaintiff was a detective with over 20 years of experience, assigned in 2014 to the New York City Police Department’s Executive Protection Unit. Plaintiff alleges that, on account of his age and national origin, he was subjected to a series of assignments to less prestigious positions, amounting to functional demotion and undermining his promotion prospects, culminating with assignment to uniformed guard duty at the gates of City Hall.

Applying the law to the facts, the court explained:

In support of his causes of action for failure to promote, plaintiff alleges that two non-Russian, younger, and less qualified detectives – whom he specifically names – were promoted ahead of him, while he remains unpromoted. While plaintiff does not in the complaint flesh out some details which will be material – such as the precise age of the detectives promoted ahead of him – that does not vitiate his pleading. Plaintiff has amply met his pleading burden by naming as a comparator a specific individual whose details can be particularly verified during discovery. Nor was it necessary for plaintiff to allege that he applied for promotion (see Mejia v. Roosevelt Is. Med. Assoc., 95 AD3d 570, 572 [1st Dept 2012], lv dismissed 20 NY3d 1045 [2013] ), since he has alleged that promotions were typically made unannounced and unsolicited (see Uwoghiren v. City of New York, 148 AD3d 457, 458 [1st Dept 2017] ). Accordingly, plaintiff has stated claims for failure to promote under the State and City HRLs.

The court also held, inter alia, that plaintiff sufficiently alleged retaliation under the NYC Human Rights law, but that is a subject for another post…

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