Sunday, November 11, 2012

Court Allows Plaintiff to Use Statistics to Help Rebut Employer's Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Reason

In an interesting case out of a New York County Supreme Court case (remember that in New York the Supreme Court is the primary civil court), a plaintiff was allowed to rely on statistics regarding favorable treatment of African-Americans to help prove his national origin discrimination claim.  

The case involved an Assistant Principal of a New York public high school, who was of Hispanic descent, claimed that his most recent favorable positive performance evaluation ("satisfactory") was down-graded (to "unsatisfactory"), that he was not retained under his five-year probationary service agreement, and that he was fired after four years of exemplary service, all by an African-American principal who came to the school shortly before his discharge.  The new principal asserted that the actions were due to the plaintiff's unsatisfactory work record and violation of the conflicts of interest policy, accusations the Assistant Principal denied.  

The New York Court allowed the case to proceed against the employer partially because of statistical evidence offered by the plaintiff:
Before the new principal's arrival, four of the 11 Assistant Principals at the high school were not African-American (three Latinos, one West Indian, and one Caucasian).  Under the new regime, all four non-African-Americans were let go and replaced by African-Americans.  Likewise, all the African-American Assistant Principals were retained or replaced by other African-Americans.  This changed the percentage of African-American Assistant Principals from 64% to 100%.
I applaud the court for being open to considering evidence in all forms and as the famous saying goes, "numbers don't lie."  

The case is Dominguez v. Dept. of Educ., 2012 NY Slip Op 51899(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct., New York County, Sept. 28, 2012).  

(Hat tip: Attorney Ted Olsen's article on JD Supra.) 

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