Friday, October 6, 2017

Unfair treatment is not discrimination

This case drives a point home that many plaintiffs do not want to hear. If you get shafted at work, that is not necessarily a discriminatory action. The Court of Appeals feels bad about how this guy was treated, but it still finds he has no case.

The case is Williams v. New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, decided on October 6. Williams applied for a job at the Hospital, which stopped considering his employment application after a prospective or recently hired employee racially profiled Williams and wrongly accused him of stealing her cell phone while he was waiting for his second job interview. This accusation was ultimately dropped, but along the way it "led to an escalating series of interrogations in which Williams became increasingly agitated. He ultimately was removed from the Hospital by police officers and not allowed to continue with the interview process."

In reviewing the case, the Court of Appeals (Newman, Walker and Pooler) says that "it does seem that he was badly and unfairly treated. Apparently without any evidence, Williams was accused of theft and interrogated by police. He was thrown out of the Hospital when he protested his treatment, even though he had been cleared of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, it is well known to this court that racism on the part of accuser, investigators, and bystanders may well have affected the course of events." But that is not the end of the story. Williams is suing for discrimination. There is no unfair treatment law in New York.

Even if Williams provides reason to infer that his accuser and the NYPD officers were “motivated by discriminatory intent,” "he does not provide reason to infer that the decision not to hire him derived from the same motives." The Court goes on:

The motives for accusation and unfair treatment during the investigation cannot be equated with the motives not to hire Williams, at least not on the factual allegations that Williams puts forward. Had Williams instead been late to a job interview due to a racially discriminatory police stop, we could simultaneously conclude that he had been mistreated due to his race and that he had no claim against those who decided not to hire him. Similarly here.

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