In Woolf v. Bloomberg L.P., No. 155152/2020, 2021 WL 4427372 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Sep. 24, 2021), the court considered whether and to what extent a prior federal court decision – which dismissed the plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act – prohibits the plaintiff (under principles of collateral estoppel) from pursuing such claims under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws.
The court explained:
In the federal action, plaintiff’s disability was found to be a migraine condition caused by job-induced stress. Based on Woolf’s own testimony that he could do the same exact job as long as he was transferred to different supervisors, the District Court and Second Circuit both found that his job-induced stress condition was not a disability under the ADA (see Woolf, 949 F3d at 93). Further, while migraines on their own may be viewed as an impairment, job-induced stress is not a disability that is covered by the NYSHRL or NYCHRL either (see Lenhoff, 97 Civ 9458[LMM] at 6). “Even though claims under the NYCHRL must be given an independent liberal construction, it is inconceivable that the legislature intended to set the bar of required proof as low as plaintiff suggests” (see Defrancesco v Railroad, 2012 WL 2396521 [Sup Ct, New York County, 2012, Gische, J.] (plaintiff’s stress of using the TIM machine at work and belief that it was unsafe and hurting her ability to conceive was not a disability under the NYSHRL or NYCHRL)).
Based on this, the court held that plaintiff was estopped from arguing that he has a disability, and therefore, that his discrimination and related claims must fail.