National Origin Discrimination Claim Reinstated

In Ajoku v. New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, et al., No. 14321, 159104/18, 2020-02370, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 05394, 2021 WL 4597024 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., Oct. 07, 2021), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged national origin discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law, and therefore reinstated those claims following their dismissal by the trial court.

From the decision:

The amended complaint states a cause of action for national origin discrimination against defendants [New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance] and Contento (see Forrest v. Jewish Guild for the Blind, 3 NY3d 295, 305 and n 3 [2004]; Matter of Local 621 v New York City Dept. of Transp., 178 AD3d 78, 81 [1st Dept 2019], lv dismissed 35 NY3d 1106 [2020] ).

Liberally construing the complaint, presuming its factual allegations to be true, and according it the benefit of every possible favorable inference (see Doe v. Bloomberg, L.P., 36 NY3d 450, 454 [2021]; Anderson v. Edmiston & Co., Inc., 131 AD3d 416 [1st Dept 2015] ), the complaint asserts that Contento was aware of a long chain of discrimination against plaintiff and condoned it. It can also be inferred that Contento was aware of plaintiff’s national origin, and condoned the continuing discrimination and concurrent retaliation against him, culminating in the ultimate adverse action of termination of employment (see Clayton v. Best Buy Co., Inc., 48 AD3d 277, 277 [1st Dept 2008] ). Accordingly, we reinstate the amended complaint’s State HRL cause of action for national origin discrimination against OTDA and Contento and the accompanying aiding and abetting discrimination claim against the individual defendants.

The court also held that the lower court properly severed and dismissed plaintiff’s cause of action against against defendant New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) for retaliatory whistleblower termination pursuant to New York Civil Service Law § 75–b, holding that claims under that statute “are committed to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Claims” and, therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

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