Race Discrimination Claims Plausibly Alleged; Allegations Included Singling Out Etc.

In Brooks v. Prevention Point, No. 20-06379, 2021 WL 6125205 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 28, 2021), the court, inter alia, held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged his claims of race discrimination.

The court explained that, in order to make out a prima facie case of discrimination, plaintiff was required to show four elements, namely, that he “(1) is a member of a protected class; (2) was qualified for the position; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the circumstances of an adverse employment action give rise to an inference of discrimination.”

The first three elements were undisputed; the battleground here, as in many discrimination cases, was the fourth element. On this point, the court held that plaintiff plausibly alleged that his termination and lack of promotion were the result of discrimination.

From the decision:

Plaintiff alleges that he is the only African-American in his employment department. When Plaintiff inquired into a front desk worker position, his supervisor informed him that she was not hiring in-house for that position. The position was then later filled in-house. Plaintiff further alleges that, no more than three months after the rejection, he was subjected to an incident where his supervisor singled him out at a staff meeting by continually asking him, the only African-American individual present at the meeting, a race-related question. In this incident, the supervisor persisted in her questioning, despite Plaintiff’s unwillingness to respond. Directly preceding this incident, Plaintiff’s supervisor made a mocking comment related to race. Plaintiff was terminated the next day. Viewing these circumstances in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, I find that these allegations give rise to an inference of discrimination.

In an effort to argue that these isolated comments are insufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination, Defendant relies on several cases, all of which are unpersuasive. Each of those cases survived past the pleading stage and were dismissed on summary judgment when the plaintiff failed to adduce evidence to support the prima facie case. See Mohebi v. York Hospital/Wellspan Health, No. 1:07-cv-2255, 2009 WL 648981 (M.D. Pa. March 10, 2009) (holding that a medical resident of Iranian origin failed to provide evidence demonstrating a hospital’s discriminatory animus in order to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination and thus overcome the hospital’s motion for summary judgment); Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc., 130 F.3d 1101 (3d Cir. 1997) (holding that evidence did not establish that an employer’s articulated reason for failing to promote and for terminating an employee was pretext for discrimination); Poland v. Computer Sciences Corp., No. 04-cv-217, 2005 WL 2454945 (D. Del. Oct. 5, 2005) (holding that the plaintiff failed to meet the evidentiary burden to establish a prima facie case).

The court concluded that, since at the motion to dismiss stage it was required to take all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint as true, doing so led it to “find that Plaintiff has plausibly pled sufficient facts to give rise to an inference of discrimination, thereby setting forth a prima facie case of racial discrimination.”

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