Doe v. City of N.Y. (S.D.N.Y. 2008): Insufficient Claim of Employment Discrimination

An Arab-American police officer in New York City sued his employer under §1981 (providing “a cause of action for race-based employment discrimination based on a hostile work environment”), New York Executive Law Section 290, and New York Administrative Code Section 9-101 (both state laws imposing “liability on aiders and abettors of unlawful discriminatory practices”), as well as laws prohibiting the creation of a hostile work environment. The plaintiff worked for the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and claimed that the Department made him read anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric in the form of briefings from an anti-terrorism consultant. According to the plaintiff, these briefings entailed the consultant instructing the reader to not trust Muslims in law enforcement and making comments like “a good Muslim…can’t be a good American.” The Court held that a jury could find that the conduct was severe or pervasive enough to allow a hostile work environment claim to proceed. It thus denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and allowed the case to go forward. The case was ultimately closed in 2010 after an order of dismissal without ever going to trial. The plaintiff did not lodge an explicit claim on the basis of Islamic law, but his allegations about religion may have included ritual practice or dress related to Islamic law.

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