Supreme Court Properly Annulled New York Division of Human Rights’ Determination there Was No Probable Cause to Believe the School District Discriminated against Petitioner When It Refused to Hire Her Because of Her Anticipated Absence (Due to Pregnancy)
The Fourth Department affirmed Supreme Court’s annulment of the New York Division of Human Rights’ (SDHR’s) finding, without a hearing, there was no probable cause to believe the school district discriminated against the petitioner. Petitioner was not hired because of her anticipated absence due to pregnancy. The school district’s stated reason for not hiring petitioner was that she was going to be unavailable to counsel students and there was concern about the resulting lack of continuity of counseling services for the students. However, the petitioner’s unavailability was due to her pregnancy and discrimination could therefore be inferred:
“Where, as here, a determination of no probable cause is rendered [by SDHR] without holding a public hearing pursuant to Executive Law § 297 (4) (a), the appropriate standard of review is whether the determination was arbitrary and capricious or lacking a rational basis’ ” … . “Probable cause exists only when, after giving full credence to the complainant’s version of the events, there is some evidence of unlawful discrimination” … . “There must be a factual basis in the evidence sufficient to warrant a cautious [person] to believe that discrimination had been practiced” … . The complainant’s factual showing must be accepted as true on a probable cause determination … . While our standard of review is highly deferential to the agency’s determination …, we agree with the court that SDHR’s determination “was not rationally based upon the evidence presented” … .
Executive Law § 296 prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or employ an individual based on, inter alia, the individual’s sex. In opposition to the petition, the District argued that it decided not to rehire petitioner because of her unavailability and its concern for continuity of counseling services for its students. Petitioner was unavailable to work, however, because of her pregnancy, and we conclude that discrimination could be inferred from the record before us … . The District relies on Roslyn Union Free Sch. Dist. v State Div. of Human Rights (72 AD2d 808) in support of its argument that it did not discriminate against petitioner. To the extent that Roslyn holds that a decision not to hire an individual because the individual is pregnant is not a form of discrimination (see id. at 809-810), we decline to follow it. Matter of Mambretti v New York State Div. of Human Rights, 2015 NY Slip Op 05384, 4th Dept 6-19-15