National Origin, Religious Discrimination Claims Dismissed Against Apollo Management Holdings

In Tihan v. Apollo Management Holdings, L.P., No. 152196/2019, 2021 WL 274709 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 27, 2021), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s (a Turkish Muslim) claims of discrimination based on his national origin or religion.

The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that his performance reviews were discriminatory, noting that “[a] plaintiff’s feelings and perceptions of being discriminated against are not evidence of discrimination” and that “[n]othing about the evaluation procedures is even vaguely suggestive of discrimination.”

It proceeded to find that there was no evidence of derogatory comments made to plaintiff about his religion or national origin; while there was evidence that one defendant “once joked about a plane crashing into Trump Tower,” that “comment, though insensitive, does not reference Turks, Muslims or plaintiff, who does not state whether he personally heard it.” Such “stray remarks,” without more, the court observed, amount to evidence of discrimination.

The court also rejected plaintiff’s argument based on the fact that defendant “refused to greet him and looked at him with angry eyes,” noting that while plaintiff “may have felt slighted by this behavior,” the anti-discrimination laws “are not ‘general civility code[s] for the American workplace.'”

Plaintiff’s additional argument based on his belief that defendant “has hatred of the Muslim community” was based only on speculation, and “[s]ubjective conclusions without evidence that would reasonably support[] a finding of prohibited discrimination does not suffice.” [Internal quotation marks omitted.]

Also, though plaintiff testified that a defendant allegedly called plaintiff “loud” because he was Turkish and a Muslim, the court held that “given the documented evidence of his unsatisfactory work performance, plaintiff has not shown that discrimination was a motivating factor in his termination or in deciding his bonuses.”

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