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New York Court Discusses Disparate Treatment Under Title VII

Numerous laws protect New York employees from discrimination in the workplace due to their race or color. Employment discrimination can take many forms, including disparate treatment. In a recent case, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed what actions may constitute adverse treatment in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he was discriminated against based on his national origin, race, and color. If your employer took adverse action against you at work because of your race or color, you should speak with a seasoned capable New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant city as a corrections officer. He sustained a shoulder injury while at work, after which he underwent shoulder surgery. He subsequently sought extended sick leave, which required him to obtain approval from the Health Management Division of the department of corrections. Thus, a physician was assigned to his case. The physician made fun of the plaintiff’s accent, made derogatory comments about the plaintiff’s color and race, and initially refused to perform an examination. He ultimately deemed the plaintiff able to work with a medically monitored restriction. The plaintiff complained to his supervisor and asked to be assigned a new doctor, but his request was denied.

It is reported that at subsequent appointments, the physician continued to be demeaning and told the plaintiff to go back to his own country. Additionally, as the physician would not designate the plaintiff as unable to work, the plaintiff was forced to take unauthorized sick days, after which he was disciplined, placed on probation, and forced to forfeit sick days. The plaintiff ultimately filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the defendant, alleging multiple claims of discrimination under Title VII, including disparate treatment. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss alleging, in part, that the plaintiff had not properly alleged facts indicating an adverse action.

Disparate Treatment Under Title VII

A plaintiff alleging disparate treatment under Title VII must show that he or she is a member of a protected class, qualified for his or her position, but that he or she suffered an adverse employment action. The plaintiff must also offer at least minimal support for the assertion that his or her employer was motivated by a discriminatory animus. A court will not dismiss a plaintiff’s adverse employment action claims if the plaintiff can show that he or she suffered a materially adverse change in the conditions and terms of his or her employment. In other words, a plaintiff must show a change that is more disruptive than a slight inconvenience. In the subject case, the court agreed with the plaintiff’s assertion that he suffered an adverse employment action when he was mischaracterized by the physician, which ultimately caused him to face disciplinary action and the loss of sick days. As such, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Employment Attorney

If you believe you are the victim of discrimination due to your color, race, or membership in any other protected class, it is advisable to speak with an experienced New York employment discrimination attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to pursue. The skillful employment attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP will vigorously advocate on your behalf to help you seek the best result available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our online form or at our Manhattan office by calling (212) 227-7070 or our Garden City office by calling (516) 880-8170 to schedule a free and confidential meeting.