Federal Court in Brooklyn Denies School District’s Motion to Vacate Age Discrimination Verdict

After a two-week trial, a jury in Brooklyn, New York, returned a unanimous verdict in favor of a 47-year-old special education teacher who claimed that the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District terminated his employment on account of his age. Last week, District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco (United States District Court, Eastern District) rejected the School District’s bid to set aside the verdict. Judge Bianco ruled that the testimony and evidence provided an ample basis for the jury to conclude that the School District’s superintendent “wanted to hire young people” in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

In his 44-page decision, Judge Bianco provides an exhaustive analysis of New York and Federal discrimination law. The decision discusses the legal standards that apply to age discrimination claims. The decision also provides an extremely useful discussion of the types of evidence that employees can submit to prove that their employer treated them differently because of their age

Judge Bianco notes that during the two-week trial, the Plaintiff, Anthony Claudio, presented a variety of instances in which he was treated worse than other employees. In addition, the other teachers testified before the jury that the School District exhibited a preference for younger job candidates. In his decision, Judge Bianco specifically notes that there was testimony by teachers describing the School District’s superintendent preference for younger job candidates.

The Court’s decision provides a helpful analysis of the type of financial relief that is available to discrimination victims under both New York and federal law. The decision discusses the legal standards by which discrimination damages, including back pay and front pay, are calculated.

Mr. Claudio’s verdict is merely the latest in a series of big victories by New York employment discrimination plaintiffs. Earlier this year, the Second Circuit ruled in Milhalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America, Inc. that discrimination claims brought under the NYCHRL must be construed “more broadly in favor of discrimination plaintiffs” than claims brought under the more restrictive state (New York State Human Rights Law) and federal (Title VII) anti-discrimination statutes.

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