NY Federal Courts 2 – “Central Park Karen” 0


The white woman many refer to pejoratively as “Central Park Karen,” after a videotaped dispute with a Black birdwatcher in Central Park went viral, was at it again. This time, appealing the “L” she took from a New York federal court in a race discrimination and defamation lawsuit against her former employer to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

How do you think that went? 😐

I will focus here only on the race-discrimination aspect of her lawsuit.

There were two parts to the Plaintiff’s discrimination claims. First, she claimed that her former employer “implicated the race of [the Plaintiff] with each of [their] communications to the public, by repeatedly connecting [their] stated stance against racism with their termination of the Plaintiff.” In other words, I think she’s saying that it’s discriminatory to condemn racism by calling someone a racist.

What do you think, Second Circuit Court of Appeals? Does the Plaintiff’s case hold waw-tah? No, the Plaintiff is wrong.

That argument fails as a matter of law. Defendants’ statements made no mention of Plaintiff’s race, and even to the extent they could be read as accusing Plaintiff of being a racist, a statement that someone is a “racist,” while potentially indicating unfair dislike, does not indicate that the object of the statement is being rejected because of her race. “Racism” is not a race, and discrimination on the basis of alleged racism is not the same as discrimination on the basis of race. (cleaned up).

Plaintiff also argued that her employer treated other individuals outside her protected class (white) more favorably than it did her, which is something that plaintiffs often must do to prevail on discrimination claims.

But the comparator must be similarly situated in all material respects. Two employees are similarly situated when employers subject them to the same performance evaluation and discipline standards (usually involving the same supervisor), and they engage in comparable conduct.

Here, well, let’s just say the Plaintiff was a one-of-a-kind, right Second Circuit?

On de novo review, we agree with the district court that we cannot plausibly infer from Plaintiff’s allegations that Plaintiff’s alleged comparators meet these standards. As the district court held, the three proffered comparators each “occupied roles that were vastly different on their face” and allegedly engaged in misconduct that “is simply too different in kind to be comparable to [Plaintiff’s] conduct in this case.”

For those who email or message me to address the Plaintiff’s defamation claims in a future blog post, I plan to save a more fulsome analysis for when the Plaintiff appeals the Second Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 🙃

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