The U.S. Supreme Court declined Nov. 4 to take up a plea from Cushman & Wakefield to overturn a $1.3 million jury verdict in an age bias case against the commercial real estate firm and will not decide whether a New York City civil rights law should have applied in the case.
The case stems from a U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruling that Yuri Rinsky, who was fired at 63 from the commercial real estate firm, could keep the award from a Massachusetts jury for his age bias claim. The firm disputes that Rinsky was fired because he refused to move from his home in Boston, where he worked remotely, to New York City. It also says the city’s worker-friendly employment discrimination law should not apply.
The firm asked the justices to reconsider the case and disputed that the New York City Human Rights Law should have governed the decision. It argued that punitive damages must be established by “clear and convincing evidence.” The firm also wants the justices to consider whether federal courts should certify “doubtful or contentious questions of state law.”
Cushman & Wakefield was looking to overturn the First Circuit’s ruling that the New York City law applied to Rinsky’s claims because that is where the impact of the alleged bias “was felt.” The appeals court warned that reading the law in the way Cushman & Wakefield suggested would create “a significant loophole” in the city’s anti-bias coverage.
Because New York City rather than New York state law applied, Rinksy only needed to show age bias partly motivated the decision to terminate him. He didn’t need to show it was the sole cause. The trial evidence supported to the jury’s finding in his favor, the court ruled.
Szal Law Group represents Rinsky. Baker Botts represents Cushman & Wakefield.
The case is Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. v. Yury Rinsky, U.S., No. 18-1302, certiorari denied 11/4/19.