Case Studies

Epstein Becker Green Obtains Dismissal of Discrimination Suit Against Charitable Organization

On May 1, 2013, Epstein Becker Green obtained a summary judgment victory in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of a client, one of the largest not-for-profit charitable organizations in New York City.  The litigation was brought by the former Chief Financial Officer ("CFO") of the client who alleged that his termination for performance issues was unlawfully motivated by age and gender bias, as well as retaliation for engaging in a protected activity relating to an adverse employment action.  The former CFO filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was dismissed, and subsequently commenced litigation in federal court.  The plaintiff's complaint asserted violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York Executive Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The District Court dismissed the case in its entirety based upon the undisputed evidence, which demonstrated that the plaintiff was terminated for legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.  In his decision, Judge Vincent Briccetti noted that there was insufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer discrimination. 

Kenneth J. Kelly and Diana Costantino Gomprecht led the Epstein Becker Green defense team in this litigation.  Forbes v. Lighthouse International, 11 CV 7065, 2013 WL 1811960 (S.D.N.Y. May 1, 2013).

Epstein Becker Green Helps Client Obtain Dismissal of Religious Discrimination Suit

Epstein Becker Green successfully represented one of its clients, a messenger service (“Defendant”), in an appeal of a trial court’s judgment that dismissed a lawsuit by a former employee (“Plaintiff”).

When the Plaintiff was hired by the Defendant as a bicycle messenger, he was given, in accordance with the Defendant’s dress code, a company uniform that included a messenger bag containing the Defendant’s logo. However, the Plaintiff decided to carry a personal bag with religious writing on the outside. The Defendant repeatedly informed the Plaintiff that he could not use his personal bag while working and had to carry the Defendant’s messenger bag instead. The Plaintiff continued to carry his personal bag while working, so the Defendant fired him for violating its dress code. The Plaintiff then filed suit against the Defendant, claiming that he was a victim of religious discrimination. After the New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, dismissed the Plaintiff’s lawsuit, he appealed.

On April 16, 2015, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the trial court’s decision to dismiss the suit. The Appellate Division pointed out that the Plaintiff never explained to the Defendant why he needed to carry his personal bag, despite the Defendant’s dress code. “Plaintiff's failure to inform defendant of his reason for carrying his personal bag is fatal to his claim,” stated the Appellate Division. Also, the Plaintiff’s religious discrimination claim failed because he could not prove that the Defendant’s policy of carrying only one messenger bag as part of a uniform applied solely to him, and not all employees. The Appellate Division added that the Defendant had “a legitimate, nonpretextual reason for discharging [P]laintiff from employment.”

Epstein Becker Green attorney Lori A. Medley represented the Defendant.

Epstein Becker Green Obtains Dismissal of Action Against Health Insurance Plan

On February 5, 2016, Epstein Becker Green litigators obtained summary judgment dismissing an Amended Complaint in its entirety on behalf of client The New York State Catholic Health Plan, Inc., d/b/a Fidelis Care New York (“Fidelis Care”), one of the largest government programs-based health insurance plans in New York State. The case was brought by Ahmed Elkoulily, M.D., P.C., a medical provider, challenging Fidelis Care’s decision to terminate the provider’s health services contract on the basis of a finding that the provider presented a danger of imminent harm to patient care.

After extensive discovery, the New York State Supreme Court (Nassau County) reviewed the submissions of the parties and found that “Fidelis made a searching inquiry of a sample of Dr. Elkoulily’s files, and that its conclusion to terminate him was far from arbitrary,” the standard of review for a determination under New York Public Health Law § 4406-d. On an earlier motion to dismiss, the court had dismissed the provider’s three other claims for breach of contract, intentional infliction of economic harm, and violation of New York Public Health Law § 230(11)(b).

This case is one of the few reported decisions in which a health plan has invoked the right to terminate a provider’s contract without a hearing. The court’s two decisions on the subject present a sound analysis of the proper use of such extreme measures.

The Epstein Becker Green litigators representing Fidelis Care included Peter L. Altieri and Jennifer M. Horowitz.