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Brailsford v. Zara USA, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 10, 2015

ZARA USA, INC., Defendant.


LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thomas A. Brailsford, III brings suit against his former employer, Zara USA, Inc. ("Zara"), alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), the New York State Human Rights Law (the "NYSHRL") and the New York City Human Rights Law (the "NYCHRL"). On December 4, 2014, Zara moved to dismiss in part the First Amended Complaint (the "FAC"). Plaintiff filed an untimely response without justification, which was struck from the record. For the reasons below, Zara's motion is granted.

While Zara's motion was pending, and with the Court's leave, Plaintiff moved to amend and/or correct the FAC to add new claims under the federal Equal Pay Act (the "EPA") and New York's Wage Theft Protection Act (the "WTPA"). For the reasons below, Plaintiff's motion to amend is denied.


Except as otherwise noted, the following facts are alleged in the FAC or in documents that, although not attached to the FAC, are integral to it. See Boykin v. KeyCorp, 521 F.3d 202, 204 (2d Cir. 2008). The allegations are assumed to be true for purposes of the present motions.

A. The Operative FAC

The FAC alleges that Zara employed Plaintiff, an American citizen and an African-American man, from March 15, 2010, until he was terminated on or about October 8, 2013. Plaintiff began his employment at Zara as a part-time Stock Associate at Zara's store at 1936 Broadway in New York City. In February 2012, almost two years after he started working at Zara, Plaintiff was promoted to full-time Stockroom Supervisor. In August 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to the Zara location at 580 Broadway in New York City (the "Soho Store"). At the Soho Store, Plaintiff worked approximately 25 hours per week, earning approximately $14 per hour.

1. Allegations of Discrimination

Most of the employees at the Soho Store were Hispanic, including Plaintiff's managers and fellow supervisors, and they regularly communicated with each other in Spanish during work hours. Plaintiff's fellow employees at the Soho Store knew that Plaintiff could neither speak nor understand Spanish.

Plaintiff's supervisors and fellow employees at the Soho Store subjected him to what the FAC calls "a continuing course of disparate treatment and conduct to harass, intimidate [and] retaliate" on account of his race, disability and complaints about discriminatory conduct. The FAC alleges that

• Plaintiff was told to learn Spanish because Zara was a Spanish-owned company;
• Plaintiff was "constructively exclude[ed]" from "obligatory meetings, " in that they were conducted exclusively in Spanish;
• Plaintiff was prevented from attending these meetings by other tasks that he was assigned to perform at the same time;
• Plaintiff's assignments were intended to "seclude and alienate [him] from others, " and he was given "unfavorable tasks" not given to Hispanic employees;
• Plaintiff's reports of discrimination did not result in prevention or correction and were followed with increased harassment and hostility.

Plaintiff scheduled an October 1, 2013, meeting with a Zara Regional Human Resources Manager to discuss his complaints. However, the Human Resources Manager did not come to the meeting and did not meet with Plaintiff at a later time.

A week later, on October 7, 2013, Plaintiff's manager "verbally abused" him for not doing work that she knew was someone else's responsibility. The "harassment" lasted for over ten minutes and caused Plaintiff to leave work. Plaintiff promptly notified his superiors of the incident.

The next day, the Regional Human Resources Manager informed him that by leaving the Soho Store on October 7, 2013, he had abandoned his job. Plaintiff then sent an email to the Zara Director of Human Resources complaining about the incident, but did not receive any response. Over the next three weeks, Plaintiff's repeated attempts to speak with Zara's Human Resources staff were similarly unsuccessful.

2. Allegations of Failure to Accommodate

On August 26, 2013, Plaintiff injured his back while moving boxes at work. He informed his supervisor and left work to seek medical treatment at Montefiore Hospital. He was provided a document titled, "Patient Home Care Instructions, " informing him that he could return to work on August 28, 2013, but that he could not undertake "heavy lifting for 1 week." When he returned to work on August 28, 2013, he provided his supervisor with a copy of the restrictions, but she nevertheless ...

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