The plaintiff brought an action alleging discrimination under several statutes including under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYS HRL) and New York City Human Rights Law (NYC HRL). The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint. In Woolf v Bloomberg L.P., 2022 NY Slip Op 07174 (December 15, 2022), the plaintiff appealed.
The New York Appellate Division, First Department, dismissed the appeal.
The Court explained that under the NYS HRL, a plaintiff seeking to hold an employer liable for failing to make a transfer as a reasonable accommodation bears the burden of demonstrating that a vacant funded position existed and that the plaintiff was qualified to fill that position. Here, in a prior federal action, the Second Circuit had found that the plaintiff failed to identify a suitable position that was open, that he was qualified for, and to which he could have been transferred. Accordingly, the plaintiff was estopped from claiming that the defendants failed to provide a reasonable accommodation.
The plaintiff was similarly estopped from asserting the claims under the NYC HRL in view of the factual findings by the District Court in the federal action that, among other things, the plaintiff had been offered and provided medical leave as an accommodation to address his medical issues, and assigned a new immediate supervisor to help alleviate his workplace stress.
The Court explained that the general principle that the NYC HRL must be construed broadly in favor of plaintiffs is not a substitute for evidence.