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New York Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Prove Disparate Treatment at Work

December 4, 2020

People from a variety of ethnic backgrounds work in New York. While garnering the experiences and knowledge from a diverse group of people is one of the greatest advantages of working in an urban environment, racial discrimination is, unfortunately, a problem in many workplaces. While victims of employment discrimination can seek redress via the courts, they must produce sufficient evidence of discriminatory acts to recover damages. Recently, a New York court discussed the evidence a plaintiff needs to prove disparate treatment in a case alleging racial discrimination. If you were subject to discriminatory acts at work, you might be owed compensation, and it is in your best interest to speak with a seasoned New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff worked at the defendant university as a history professor. The plaintiff, who was of Indian descent, faced extensive obstacles in obtaining tenure and was repeatedly denied distinguished professor status. He filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging numerous claims of discrimination in violation of state and federal law, including a claim that he was subject to disparate treatment due to the defendant’s failure to renew his salary supplement. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims in their entirety. After reviewing the plaintiff’s complaint, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Evidence Needed to Prove Disparate Treatment

In part, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s disparate treatment was implausible under Title VII. The plaintiff did not counter the defendant’s argument, and therefore, the court deemed the claim abandoned. The court stated, however, that even if it was not abandoned, it lacked merit and should be dismissed.

Specifically, the court explained that the plaintiff’s allegations must provide plausible support to a minimal inference of discriminatory motivation. The court noted that such an inference could arise from a variety of circumstances, including better treatment of employees who are not in the same protected class as the plaintiff. The plaintiff does not have to prove that the other employees were subject to all of the same aspects of employment as the plaintiff, but the complaint must demonstrate that they were generally similarly situated.

In other words, well-pleaded allegations that would demonstrate that the defendant treated the plaintiff differently from other employees in a similar situation are essential to a disparate treatment claim, and conclusory assertions are insufficient. Here, the court found that while the plaintiff alleged he was treated disparately because his salary supplement was not renewed, he did not set forth any facts regarding any similarly situated employees whose salary supplements were renewed. Thus, his disparate treatment claim was dismissed.

Speak to a Skilled Employment Attorney in New York

It is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee adversely due to the employee’s race or gender, and employers that engage in such discriminatory acts should be held accountable. If you are the victim of disparate treatment in the workplace, the skilled New York employment discrimination attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP can advise you of your rights and help you to seek any compensation you may be able to recover. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at (212) 227-7070 for our Manhattan office or at (516) 880-8170 for our Garden City office to set up a meeting.

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