Religious Persecution Claim Dismissed Against School

In Goldin v. Alphawit LLC, 2022 NY Slip Op 00249 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. Jan. 13, 2022), the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s “religious persecution” claim asserted under the New York State Human Rights Law and Article 47 of the New York City Health.

Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that defendant refused to allow plaintiff’s son to wear a Star of David necklace to daycare.

The court explained, as a threshold matter, that plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of an injury upon which relief could be granted, since at the time that he commenced this action, his children no longer attended the daycare center, and while plaintiff claimed that defendants’ actions caused him emotional harm, he provided no evidence of treatment for emotional distress or of monetary loss.

In addition:

Even if plaintiff had standing to bring this action, it would have to be dismissed. The religious persecution claim is predicated on defendants’ blanket policy prohibiting children ages two to five from wearing jewelry. Defendants provided a nondiscriminatory reason for the policy, i.e., that it is dangerous for young children at daycare to wear jewelry because it can be a choking hazard, both to themselves and to other children at the center. Indeed, plaintiff previously was reminded of the policy after his daughter, while at daycare, was found with a nonreligious necklace in her mouth. Plaintiff failed to submit evidence that his son’s religion played any role in defendants’ decision to remove his necklace. To the contrary, defendants informed plaintiff that his son was free to express his faith in other ways, such as the wearing of religious garb.

The court also held that the lower court correctly dismissed plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, as well as plaintiff’s child assault and endangerment claims, since there is no private right of action under article 47 of the New York City Health Code.

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