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BOSTICK v. RAPPLEYEA

July 5, 1985

RIMA E. BOSTICK, Plaintiff, against CLARENCE D. RAPPLEYEA, Individually and as Assemblyman and Minority Leader, New York State Assembly, JOHN C. COCHRANE, Individually and as Assemblyman and Ranking Minority Member Assembly Ways and Means Comm., RICHARD A. JACQUES, Individually and as Director of Minority Staff, Assembly Ways and Means Comm. ERMAN J. COCCI, Individually and as Ex-Director of Budget Studies, Assembly Ways and Means Comm., JAMES NATOLI, Individually and as Executive Director, Office of Minority Leader, New York State Assembly, JAMES M. CATTERSON, Individually and as Executive Counsel to the Minority Leader, PETER C. BROWN, Individually and as Director of Budget Studies Assembly Ways and Means Comm., STANLEY FINK as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, KAREN BURSTEIN as President of the New York State Civil Service Commission and Commissioner of the New York State Department of Civil Service, EDWARD V. REGAN, as Comptroller of the State of New York, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MINER

ROGER J. MINER, D.J.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

 I

 This action arises out of an alleged course of conduct on the part of defendants, various members of the New York State Assembly and minority staff administrators of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, involving the denial to plaintiff Rima E. Bostick of equal employment opportunities in her postition as a Legislative Budget Analyst for the minority staff of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. The action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 2000e and 29 U.S.C. §§ 206(d)(1), 621, and the complaint alleges that defendants' failure to appoint plaintiff to the position of director of budget studies and their continual discriminatory treatment of plaintiff in the areas of compensation and working conditions violated the first, fifth and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 ("ADEA"), and the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206 ("EPA"). Jurisdiction is predicated upon 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b).

 II

 Since January of 1975, plaintiff has been employed as a Legislative Budget Analysis for the minority staff of the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee ("Committee"). As such, plaintiff's duties have included "conducting budgetary, personnel, workload, and other administrative critical reviews for legislators and administrators . . . [and] drafting legislation, interpreting regulations and developing policy." Exhibit B to Affidavit of Richard A. Jacques at 2. Her immediate supervisor, and the individual to whom she reports, is the director of budget studies for the Committee. While at times plaintiff has had direct contact with Committee members and other elected officials, the majority of her duties have kept her in constant contact with other Committee employees.

 In January of 1984, plaintiff submitted an application for the position of director of budget studies to defendant Jacques, director of minority staff for the Committee. Upon receiving the resume, defendant Jacques allegedly informed plaintiff that he had already decided to give the position to defendant Peter C. Brown, a fellow Assembly employee. Plaintiff then contacted defendant John C. Cochrane, ranking minority member of the Committee, and expressed to him her concern over not having been considered for the position. Defendant Cochrane informed plaintiff that the position had in fact not yet been filled and accepted her resume for consideration.

 Plaintiff contends that over the next few weeks she was subjected to a variety of discriminatory practices which were aimed at discouraging her from seeking the position. Faced with this continuing conduct, plaintiff contacted defendant Charles D. Rappleyea, minority leader of the New York State Assembly, who informed plaintiff that he would appoint a mediator for her dispute. On March 28, 1984, the mediator issued a report determining that plaintiff's grievance was "legitimate and non-frivolous" and recommending three alternative proposals for resolution of the dispute. *fn1" Defendant Rappleyea rejected the proposals and, on April 30, 1984, defendant Brown was appointed to the position of director of budget studies.

 In light of defendant Rappleyea's decision not to follow the proposals of the mediator, plaintiff filed complaints with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("Division"), claiming that she had been subjected to unlawful discriminatory practices because of her age and sex. On July 26, 1984, the Division issued a decision finding no probable cause for plaintiff's complaint. From the time of this decision, plaintiff alleges that she has been subjected to further discriminatory conduct, in relation to wage increases and workload, directly attributable to her age and sex.

 Plaintiff thus commenced this action against defendants Rappleyea, Cochrane, Jacques, Brown, Erman Cocci, former director of budget studies, James Natoli, Executive Director of the New York State Assembly Minority Staff, James J. Catterson, Executive Counsel to defendant Rappleyea, Stanley Fink, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Karen Burstein, President of the New York Civil Service Commission, and Edward V. Regan, Comptroller of New York State, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and damages for various violations of her constitutional statutory rights. First, plaintiff asserts that defendants' conduct was "motivated by unlawful considerations and [was] committed under color of state law," Complaint, P65, thereby depriving plaintiff of her first, fifth and fourteenth amendment rights. Second, plaintiff argues that the same discriminatory conduct, allegedly based upon sex and age, violated Title VII, the ADEA, and the EPA.

 In moving to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, defendants contend that their actions relating to plaintiff's employment are cloaked with absolute legilsative immunity. Arguing that "[p]laintiff's job function is an "integral part" of the deliberative and communicative process by which the Assembly Ways and Means Committee members participate in committee and Assembly proceedings," Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss at 9, defendants assert that the common law doctrine of legislative immunity necessarily must encompass decisions surrounding her employment. Second, in relation to the statutory claims, defendants contend that they are not "employers" or "agents" of an employer and therefore are not subject to a suit under Title VII.

 III

 A. Legislative Immunity

 The Supreme Court has established that members of a state legislature enjoy absolute immunity from civil damages actions when acting within "the sphere of legitimate legislative activity." Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers Union, 446 U.S. 719, 731-32, 64 L. Ed. 2d 641, 100 S. Ct. 1967 (1980); Tenney v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367, 376, 95 L. Ed. 1019, 71 S. Ct. 783 (1951). State legislative immunity is a common law doctrine, Star Distributors, Ltd. v. Marino, 613 F.2d 4, 8 (2d Cir. 1980), and has been extended to encompass legilsative assistants as well. Gravel v. United States, 408 U.S. 606, 616-17, 33 L. Ed. 2d 583, 92 S. Ct. 2614 (1972); see Green v. DeCamp, 612 F.2d 368 (8th Cir. 1980). It is premised upon "the need for an independent legislative branch, free from the coercion of restraint imposed by inquiry from other governmental authority, as well as from the time consuming problem of legislators having to defend their official acts in court." Agromayor v. Colberg, 738 F.2d 55, 58 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1037, 105 S. Ct. 515, 83 L. Ed. 2d 405 (1984). While legislative immunity does not extend ...


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