Title VII Race Discrimination Claim Dismissed; “Fat Black Bitch” Comment Was a “Stray Remark”

In Jackson v. Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, 19-CV-4099, 2021 WL 2255698 (E.D.N.Y. June 3, 2021), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race discrimination claim, on the ground that the alleged racial comment was a “stray remark.”

From the decision:

The plaintiff has not established an inference of discrimination. She cites no evidence, and indeed does not claim, that anyone in a supervisory position disparaged her because of her race or made any racially charged statements about her or in her presence. In fact, the plaintiff cites only one incident: that in 2016, two years before the altercation that led to the plaintiff’s termination, Ms. Acevedo called her a “fat black bitch.” That statement, while certainly inappropriate and upsetting, does not raise a plausible inference that the defendant fired the plaintiff because of her membership in a protected class. Rather, that comment, far removed in time and made by a coworker with no authority over the plaintiff, is the kind of “stray remark” that courts have found insufficient to constitute employment discrimination. [Citations omitted.]

Though it was unnecessary to engage in the burden-shifting analysis (plaintiff having not made out a prima facie case), the court proceeded to note that defendant provided legitimate reasons for its decision to terminate plaintiff, including a recording in which plaintiff apparently used profanity in an encounter between plaintiff and Ms. Acevedo.

Based on this, the court dismissed plaintiff’s discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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