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New York Court Discusses Contradictory Testimony in Discrimination Cases

October 14, 2020

It is clear that under New York law, a plaintiff alleging gender-based discrimination must set forth evidence sufficient to prove such claims. In many instances, the evidence will be purely circumstantial and may include the plaintiff’s own testimony. As discussed in a recent gender discrimination case, while a plaintiff’s testimony may be sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff who previously denied an essential fact cannot simply provide new contradictory testimony in an effort to avoid dismissal. If you were the victim of discrimination in the workplace, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney to determine what you must prove to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff worked for the defendant human rights commission. At some point, she interviewed with the chair of the commission for the position of executive director. She was passed over for the position and faced other adverse effects at work, after which she filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging numerous gender-based discrimination claims. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed, arguing in part, that the court erred in dismissing her claim that she was denied a promotion based on her gender.

The Impact of Contradictory Testimony in Employment Discrimination Cases

Upon review, the court assumed that for purposes of its analysis that the plaintiff had set forth a prima faciecase of employment discrimination based on her failure to receive a promotion, and that the defendant had set forth a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for denying the motion. The court found, however, that the plaintiff had not produced any evidence that would support the inference that the defendant’s reasons for promoting another employee over the plaintiff were mere pretext.

Specifically, the appellate court noted that in support of her appeal, the plaintiff cited her own deposition in which she testified that the chair of the commission told her that he wanted a man for the position. The court found, however, that this testimony should not be considered in an analysis of the defendant’s summary judgment motion, as it directly contradicted the plaintiff’s testimony at an earlier deposition. Specifically, she previously denied that the commission chair said anything to her with regard to gender.

The court explained that this was not a case where an attorney failed to ask questions needed to elicit testimony at a deposition, as the questions previously presented were precise. Further, the court found that while the prior testimony could be considered if the plaintiff had a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy, she failed to provide one. As such, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Meet With an Experienced New York Attorney

If you were discriminated against at work due to your gender, you have the right to pursue claims against your employer and should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced New York employment discrimination attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP possess the skills and resources required to prove employers should be held liable for their unlawful behavior, and if you hire us, we will advocate vigorously on your behalf. You can reach us at our Manhattan office by calling (212) 227-7070, or our Garden City office by calling (516) 880-8170, or by using our form online to set up a conference.

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