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New York Administrative Law Judge Dismisses Racial Discrimination and Harassment Claims

February 6, 2008

After six days of hearing, an Administrative Law Judge of the New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”) has dismissed claims of racial discrimination and harassment brought against KM&M’s client, a major airline.

The complainant, an African-American woman, was employed as a customer service agent at the Albany International Airport from 2000 until she resigned in 2006.   In her complaint to the NYSDHR she claimed that she was subjected to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment on the basis of her race and was constructively discharged as a result of what she claimed was a racially hostile work environment.  Specifically, she alleged that she received an unfairly critical performance evaluation, that she was singled out to perform menial tasks, and that she was treated in an abusive manner by her co-workers and supervisors, all because of her race.

The Administrative Law Judge dismissed the complainant’s claims in their entirety.  The Judge found that the criticisms the complainant received were entirely justified by her poor performance and violations of the employer’s standards, and that there was no evidence that her work assignments, or any other aspect of her treatment, were based on her race.  Of particular note, the Judge found that the complainant’s claim that she suffered from mental distress and depression as a result of her treatment at work was false; she based this finding on documents subpoenaed by KM&M from the complainant’s prior employer showing that she had asserted similar claims of harassment and discrimination during her employment there, and that she had a significant prior history of depression.

With respect to certain incidents cited by the complainant to support her claim of a racially hostile work environment (including one incident in which a picture of a monkey was posted near the locker of another African-American employee), the Judge found that the employer acted promptly and appropriately to remedy the situation, by conducting a thorough investigation and terminating the wrongdoers.  Finally, finding no evidence whatsoever of discriminatory conduct, the Judge dismissed the complainant’s claim that she was constructively discharged.