Justice Arlene Bluth


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Defendants moved to dismiss ex-employee Morse’s complaint alleging discrimination based on marital status under New York City’s Human Rights Law. Morse cross-moved to amend the complaint. In a matter of apparent first impression, the court noted the motion required it to explore the limits of an employer’s conduct towards employees only due to a perceived marriage. Morse worked for Fidessa Corp., became involved with another employee, Wakefield, and they married in 2006, but divorced in 2011, despite continuing to reside together with their children. He alleged he was suspended–then terminated in July 2016. Almost immediately after Wakefield left Fidessa, and was told the termination was because of his perceived marriage to Wakefield, but he would be considered for future employment if he ended his marriage to her. The court found Morse stated a cognizable claim as his allegations showed he was treated differently because defendants believed he was married to Wakefield. It stated an employer should not have an unlimited ability to infringe on an individual’s liberty interest in adult relationships. The purpose of employment discrimination laws was to prevent this type of behavior, denying defendants’ motion, while granting Morse’s cross-motion.