“Non-Traditional Korean” National Origin Discrimination Claim Dismissed

In Kim v. Sae-a Trading America Corp., No. 656669/2020, 2022 WL 106846 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Jan. 05, 2022), the court, inter alia, granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s “non-traditional Korean” national origin discrimination claim.

Plaintiff alleged, among other things, that defendants made offensive comments disapproving of the fact that Plaintiff was “still unmarried at her age”, told her to “act like a traditional Korean woman”, and harshly criticized her for being too tough and independent, too lacking in submissive qualities of a “traditional Korean woman”.

The court concluded that these facts did not give rise to a viable cause of action for discrimination:

In support of the motion, defendants argue that plaintiff has failed to state a claim for national origin discrimination. Specifically, defendants maintain that plaintiff cannot viably claim she was mistreated as compared to other Korean employees of violation of the NYCHRL and thus her fourth, fifth and sixth causes of action must be dismissed. The court agrees with defendants. Plaintiff does not have a viable legal claim based upon allegations that her employment was terminated, and she was otherwise mistreated because she “behaved in a more independent and assertive manner” than other Korean employees. Indeed, as defense counsel points out, plaintiff has not identified any physical characteristic which distinguishes her from her traditional-Korean counterparts and thus the cases she relies upon are not on point.

The court did, however, deny defendants’ motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of general personal jurisdiction, noting plaintiff’s allegations in her proposed amended complaint of “specific conduct by Ha affecting the terms of her employment and she claims that STC operated and/or controlled STA, her employer”, and that “defendants have failed to come forward with sufficient proof showing that this court lacks personal jurisdiction over either STC or Ha in evidentiary form or even an affidavit from Ha.”

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