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Racial discrimination suit reinstated


A federal appeals court Thursday reinstated a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by an Asian employee who was replaced by a Caucasian worker.

Gloree Sapio, a U.S. citizen born in the Philippines, began working for Highland, New York-based Selux Corp., a manufacturing lighting company, as an executive assistant to its vice president of engineering and operations in January 2011, according to the complaint in Gloree Sapio v. Selux Corp; Yvonne Rivera and Ed Wolf.

In January 2018, she was told her position as executive assistant had been eliminated. She later learned a Caucasian woman had replaced her.

Ms. Sapio filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court in Albany, charging racial discrimination and fraud and misrepresentation. The district court dismissed the case, holding the complaint did not plausibly allege that her termination’s circumstances “raised an inference of race discrimination,” according to the ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

The ruling was overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel. An employment discrimination plaintiff ordinarily satisfies her “minimal” burden by alleging her replacement was someone outside her protected class, the ruling said. “Sapio has made this allegation here,” it said. 

“Moreover, Sapio has alleged an additional basis to infer discrimination – i.e., that Selux gave her false, pretextual reason for her termination,” the court said, in vacating the lower court’s ruling, and remanding the case for further proceedings.

Ms. Sapio’s attorney, Wappinger Falls, New York-based Ryanne G. Konan, said in a statement, “The Court made the right decision. The district court violated long time standing precedents of the circuit court and needed to be reminded of that fact. This is absolutely the right decision and a great victory for my client.”

Selux’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.