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An alleged decision by the New York City office of a multistate corporation to engage in discriminatory practices does not fall within city and state human rights laws unless the impact is felt within the city or state, a Southern District judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones dismissed the complaint of a Massachusetts woman who claimed she was fired from her job as the sole recruiter in the Boston office of a New York City-based placement firm because she was pregnant. The ruling in Lucas v. Pathfinder’s Personnel Inc., 02 Civ. 2252, clarifies the state human rights law’s definition of discriminatory conduct committed outside New York by a New York corporation, according to Amanda M. Fugazy, an attorney in the Manhattan office of Reed Smith who represents the defendant. According to the complaint, filed in March, Pamela Lucas alleged that she was constructively fired from her job when the placement firm, Pathfinder’s Personnel Inc., decided to close its Boston office. The decision to close the office, she claimed, was based on her pregnancy. While the defendants argued that they offered to continue her employment, Lucas claimed that closing the office altered the terms and conditions of her employment to the extent that she was effectively terminated. Lucas conceded that at the time of the alleged discrimination she was a Massachusetts resident working in Pathfinder’s Boston office. She argued in her complaint that the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) applied because the decision to terminate her was made in New York City, where the defendants maintained their principal places of business. In her memorandum ruling, Jones examined each law separately and came to the same conclusion for both, disagreeing with Lucas’ assertions. “The allegation that the decision to terminate plaintiff was made in New York City, even when taken as true … is insufficient to establish a violation of the NYCHRL where, as here, the impact of that decision occurred outside of New York City,” Jones wrote. Federal courts have in the past looked to where the impact of the offensive conduct took place when determining the location of the discrimination under the city law, the judge wrote. Jones’ analysis of Lucas’ state law claim effectively attached the same definition to the state law, according to Fugazy. Like the city’s human rights law, the state’s law “does not provide a non-resident with a private cause of action for discriminatory conduct committed outside of New York by a New York corporation,” wrote Jones. In order for Lucas to establish a state law violation, she would have to allege that Pathfinder’s discriminatory conduct occurred in New York, the judge said. However, she added, the fact that the decision to terminate Lucas was made in New York state is not sufficient to establish a violation of the state human rights law. Because the alleged violations of city and state human rights laws were the only claims asserted, Jones dismissed the complaint in its entirety. A second complaint filed by Lucas, 02 CV 1743, which alleges a federal Title VII claim regarding her termination, will continue in the Southern District of New York. In addition to Fugazy, Pathfinder’s is represented by Reed Smith’s David L. Weissman. Lucas is being represented by James P. Clark of Manhattan-based Rains & Pogrebin.

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