United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. COGAN, District Judge.
Eric William Davis, proceeding pro se, brings this
employment discrimination action against his former employer.
He filed this case in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York on October 5, 2017, and the
case was transferred to this Court on October 27, 2017. His
motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted for
the purpose of this Order. The Court directs plaintiff to
re-plead his claims, as described further below, within 20
days of the date this Order is entered.
commenced this action by filing an employment discrimination
action form complaint and checking the boxes to initiate an
action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 1981, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, New York
State Human Rights Law, and New York City Human Rights Law.
Plaintiff stated that his race is “African American
Moor” and that his disability or perceived disability
is “lack of training.” He checked the boxes
indicating that defendants terminated his employment and
provided him with terms and conditions of employment
different from those of similar employees. In the space
provided, plaintiff described the facts of his case as:
“I was sent to a job by my Union Representative in May
2017. I was laid off after 3 days of work with NO VALID
EXCUSE.” That description does not include anything
about how plaintiff's termination or the terms and
conditions of his employment were based on his race, color,
sex, religion, national origin, or actual or perceived
complaint filed in forma pauperis will be dismissed
“at any time” if the court determines that the
action “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In evaluating
whether a pleading states a claim for relief, a court must
accept all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true, but
need not accept the legal conclusions stated in it.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, ” and to nudge a
plaintiff's claims “across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007).
se complaints, like other pleadings, must allege enough
facts to meet the plausibility standard. See Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). However, courts
read pro se pleadings “liberally, ”
holding them to less stringent standards than pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976)). A court must read a pro se complaint to
raise the strongest claims it suggests. See Triestman v.
Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474-75 (2d Cir.
2006). Where a liberal reading of the pleading “gives
any indication that a valid claim might be stated, ”
the court must grant leave to amend it at least once. See
Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
plead a claim under Title VII or New York State Human Rights
Law (“NYSHRL”), a plaintiff must state facts to
show that his employer discriminated against him because of
his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-2(a)(1); Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch.
Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 85 (2d Cir. 2015). An employer
discriminates against an employee by taking an adverse
employment action against him, such as terminating his
employment or materially reducing the employee's
benefits. Vega, 801 F.3d at 85. “An action is
‘because of' a plaintiff's race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin where it was a
‘substantial' or ‘motivating' factor
contributing to the employer's decision to take the
claim under New York City Human Rights Law
(“NYCHRL”), a plaintiff must allege facts to show
that his employer discriminated against him, and that the
plaintiff's race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin played at least a partial motivating role in the
employer's decision to discriminate. Holleman v. Art
Crating, Inc., No. 12 Civ. 2719, 2014 WL 4907732, at *
44 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, a plaintiff must
plead facts to show that: (1) he is a member of a racial
minority; (2) the defendant intentionally discriminated
against him on the basis of race; and (3) the discrimination
concerned one of the activities enumerated in the statute,
such as the right to enforce a contract. Robledo v. Bond
No. 9, 965 F.Supp.2d 470, 475 (S.D.N.Y. 2013).
Termination of an employee's employment contract based on
intentional racial discrimination satisfies the third
element. See Lauture v. Int'l Bus. Machines
Corp., 216 F.3d 258, 263 (2d Cir. 2000).
complaint fails to state a claim under any of these civil
rights statutes. Plaintiff alleges that he is a member of a
racial minority. He also alleges that he was “laid off
after 3 days of work with no valid excuse” and provided
with unspecified terms and conditions of employment that were
different from those of similar employees, but he has not
offered any factual allegations showing that either of these
alleged harms happened because of his race. Because plaintiff
has not adequately alleged that he suffered discrimination
because of - or even in part because of - his race, the
claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, NYSHRL, and
NYCHRL fail to state a claim for relief and must be dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
complaint also alleges violations of the Rehabilitation Act,
asserting that plaintiff suffers from the
“disability” of “lack of training.”
To plead a case under the Rehabilitation Act, a plaintiff
must show that: (1) he is handicapped or disabled under the
Act; (2) he is otherwise qualified to perform his job; (3) he
suffered an adverse employment action solely due to his
disability; and (4) his employer receives federal financial
assistance. Harrison v. SUNY Downstate Med. Ctr.,
No. 16-CV-1101, 2017 WL 4326507, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 25,
2017). The Rehabilitation Act defines
“disability” as “a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities, ” “a record of such an impairment,
” or “being regarded as having such an
impairment.” 29 U.S.C. § 705(20)(B), referencing
42 U.S.C. § 12102. The NYCHRL has a broader definition
of “disability, ” but a plaintiff bringing a
disability-based claim under NYCHRL must still plead an
actual or perceived disability. Harrison, 2017 WL
4326507, at *4.
case, plaintiff has not alleged that his short-lived
employment was with an employer who received federal
financial assistance, nor that he has a disability as defined
by the Act. In fact, his assertion that he suffered from
“lack of training” suggests that he was not
qualified to perform the job. Because plaintiff has not
adequately alleged discrimination under the Rehabilitation
Act, this claim is also dismissed for failure to state a
claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
light of plaintiff's pro se status, the Court
grants plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. To state
a claim for employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII,
§ 1981, NYSHRL, NYCHRL, and the Rehabilitation Act,
plaintiff must present facts supporting his claim that he was
terminated because of his race or a qualified disability. To
state a claim under the Rehabilitation ...