Pay Discrimination Claims Survive, in Part, Against Physician Affiliate Group of New York

In Brightman v. Physician Affiliate Group of New York, P.C. et al, 2021 WL 1999466 (S.D.N.Y. May 19, 2021) the court, inter alia, denied (in part) defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s sex discrimination claims.

From the decision:

At the motion to dismiss stage, Brightman plausibly alleges Title VII and NYSHRL sex discrimination claims arising from pay discrimination. A sex discrimination plaintiff may state a Title VII pay discrimination claim by pleading facts showing that “she performed equal work for unequal pay,” or by pleading facts showing that, in any other way, “her employer discriminated against her with respect to her compensation because of her sex.” In her complaint, Brightman alleges that she was paid at a lower rate than three male physician assistants in the mental health department, whom she identifies by name. She alleges that this pay disparity existed even though she had more experience as a physician assistant than those male colleagues and that the job duties and risks associated with medical practice in the correctional setting are identical in the medical and mental health departments. At the pleading stage, these allegations are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. While the defendants argue that Brightman’s male physician assistant colleagues cannot serve as comparators because they worked in a different department, that is not the relevant standard. The standard is whether Brightman was paid “less than her male peers who performed equal work,” and at the pleading stage, Brightman has plausibly alleged that she and her male colleagues performed equal work even though they were assigned to different departments. Brightman may therefore pursue her Title VII pay discrimination claim to the extent that it alleges pay discrimination occurring after October 3, 2017, and her NYSHRL pay discrimination claim to the extent that it alleges pay discrimination occurring after October 3, 2016. [Citations omitted.]

The court also held, by contrast, that plaintiff did not plausibly allege that he sex was a motivating factor for the November 2018 pay denial or August 14, 2019 discharge – based on her contention that she was subjected to an adverse employment action related to her use of medical leave, while her male colleague was not subject to the same adverse employment action despite using medical leave – based on an insufficient showing that she and her male comparator were not “similarly situated in all material respects.”

It reached the same conclusion as to plaintiff’s claims under the New York City Human Rights Law.

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