June 27, 2005
Kelley Drye won a motion for summary judgment in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Exsa Americas Inc. and its President, dismissing a discrimination complaint filed by a former employee, Mrs. Doreen Basillote, and her husband. Exsa, formerly known as Holsa Inc., is a subsidiary of a large Turkish conglomerate and importer/exporter of textiles. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants unlawfully terminated Mrs. Basillote's employment due to her Filipino national origin and due to her being pregnant. Further, Mrs. Basillote's husband alleged that he suffered a loss of consortium, companionship and society as a result of the defendants' purported conduct.
In dismissing plaintiffs' claims and granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court concluded that Mrs. Basillote failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination because she could not provide evidence to support her claim that she was replaced by someone outside her protected class, or that her discharge occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. Specifically, with respect to Mrs. Basillote's national origin claim, the court noted that the plaintiffs did not allege that any comments or statements related to her national origin were directed towards her during her employment. The court further stated that her national origin discrimination claims are undermined by the undisputed fact that the defendants have employed - and continue to employ - other Filipino employees. Similarly, with respect to Mrs. Basillote's pregnancy discrimination claim, the court noted that the plaintiffs failed to show that the company's President was aware of Mrs. Basillote's pregnancy at the time he terminated her employment.
The court held that, even assuming Mrs. Basillote could have established a prima facie case of discrimination, her claims still must be dismissed because the defendants had articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating Mrs. Basillote's employment, namely her unsatisfactory performance. The judge granted the defendants' motion and dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety.