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Court Discusses Retaliation Claims Under New York Law

August 14, 2020

Numerous laws protect employees from discriminatory practices in the workplace; as such, an employee that is the victim of discrimination can report the unlawful practices in hopes of resolving the issue without legal intervention. In some instances, however, reporting illegal activity can worsen the situation and ultimately result in adverse employment actions against the victim, which may be grounds for a retaliation lawsuit. In a recent employment discrimination case, a New York court assessed what a plaintiff must plead to set forth a valid retaliation claim. If your employer treated you differently after you reported discrimination or harassment, you may be able to pursue claims against your employer and should speak to a dedicated New York employment discrimination attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a firefighter for the defendant city. He alleges that throughout the duration of his employment, he was treated adversely due to his race, sexual orientation, and religion. He filed a complaint with the EEOC in the spring of 2015, after which he alleged the defendant struck back against him by placing him on light duty. He subsequently filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the defendant, alleging numerous causes of action, including retaliation. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted.

Allegations Sufficient to Sustain a Retaliation Claim

Pursuant to the New York State Human Rights Law and Title VII, a plaintiff alleging retaliation must set forth plausible allegations that he or she participated in an activity that is protected under the law and that the defendant knew of the protected acts. The plaintiff must also show that he or she suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination or a reduction in pay or duties, and that the protected activity and the adverse action are causally related.

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, a plaintiff alleging retaliation must generally meet the same pleading requirements set forth under Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law, except that the plaintiff does not have to prove any adverse employment action. Rather, the plaintiff must merely show that there was an event that occurred that would deter someone from engaging in protected activity.

In the subject case, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s complaint fell well short of the averments required under either standard, and the court agreed. Specifically, the court found that the plaintiff failed to allege that the defendant ever took any action against the plaintiff in retaliation for the plaintiff reporting discrimination or harassment. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

Speak to a Trusted New York Attorney

If your employment was adversely affected after you reported discrimination in the workplace, you may be able to assert a retaliation claim against your employer and should consult a lawyer as soon as possible. The trusted New York employment discrimination attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP are proficient in handling a variety of claims for aggrieved employees, and if you engage our services we will work tirelessly to help you seek favorable results. You can contact us at our main office in Manhattan, at (212) 227-7070, or at our office in Garden City, at (516) 880-8170. We can also be reached via our form online to set up a conference.

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