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FRASER v. STATE OF N.Y.

August 7, 1991

GREGORY A. FRASER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, SUNY AT STONY BROOK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

In the above-referenced action, plaintiff Gregory Fraser ("plaintiff"), sues for an alleged discriminatory constructive discharge and failure to rehire, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. Plaintiff appears pro se. Named as defendant is the New York State University at Stony Brook ("defendant" or "the University"). Currently, defendant moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This Court having received numerous affidavits and submissions from plaintiff which go beyond the scope of the pleadings, defendant's motion will be treated as one for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On October 4, 1989, plaintiff was hired by defendant for an entry-level position as a principal architecture drafting technician at the Stony Brook University Hospital. On October 12, 1989, he commenced work. On December 21, 1989, after approximately two months at the job, plaintiff submitted a handwritten resignation. His decision to resign was prompted by his dissatisfaction with the work environment, and with an apparent clash with the allegedly "misdirected policies" of his supervisor.*fn1

For several weeks prior to and for nearly three months after his resignation, plaintiff applied for seven positions with the defendant. The positions included: financial analyst intern, programmer analyst, senior medical practice administrator, senior programmer analyst, senior research support specialist, research assistant and associate facilities program coordinator. In each instance, plaintiff's search was unsuccessful.

In count one of the complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was "constructively discharged" by virtue of his supervisor's actions, which he claims were racially motivated. He claims he was discriminated against in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., New York Executive Law § 296 and New York Civil Rights Law § 46. In count two, plaintiff alleges he was denied employment on the basis of his race in violation of these same statutes and Federal Executive Order 11246. Plaintiff sought: (1) appointment of counsel pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1)*fn2 and (2) injunctive relief, damages, costs and attorneys' fees. As noted above, the Court treats defendant's motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

DISCUSSION

A motion for summary judgment may be granted only when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). The burden rests on the moving party to clearly establish the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact, Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970), and "a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party." Donahue, 834 F.2d at 57. Since the presence of only a genuine and material issue of fact precludes the entry of summary judgment, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986), the summary judgment procedure allows a court to determine whether a trial is necessary. Further, on a motion for summary judgment, a court must be mindful that its role is not to try issues of fact, but to determine whether there are issues to be tried. Donahue, 834 F.2d at 58.

First Count

The plaintiff alleges in count one of the complaint that he was constructively discharged by defendant on the basis of his race in violation of his civil rights*fn3 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973), and again in Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981), the Supreme Court set forth the framework by which claims of discrimination involving Title VII must be adjudicated:

  First the plaintiff has the burden of proving by
  the preponderance of the evidence a prima facie
  case of discrimination. Second, if the plaintiff
  succeeds in proving the prima facie case, the
  burden shifts to the defendant "to articulate some
  legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the
  employee's rejection." . . . Third, should the
  defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must
  then have an opportunity to prove by a
  preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate
  reasons offered by the defendant were not its true
  reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination.
  Id. at 252-253, 101 S.Ct. at 1093 (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. at 1824.) The failure of either party to meet its burden at any step of the analysis is dispositive of the action. Meschino v. ITT Corp., 563 F. Supp. 1066, 1069 (S.D.N.Y. 1983). To establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination, the plaintiff must present evidence that: 1) he is in a protected racial group; 2) he was qualified for the job; 3) he was discharged; and 4) the discharge occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. Lopez v. S.B. Thomas, Inc., 831 F.2d 1184, 1188 (2nd Cir. 1987) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 802, 93 S.Ct. at 1824) (further citations omitted).

In the case at bar, the record shows that plaintiff is a Black male of Hispanic origin, thus satisfying the first requirement. Similarly, plaintiff's qualifications as a principal architecture drafting technician are uncontested, therefore it appears that the second requirement — qualification — is likewise met. Since he submitted a handwritten resignation, plaintiff's first claim hinges on the allegation that his resignation was actually a constructive discharge. If constructive discharge is established, plaintiff's resignation, for the purpose of establishing a prima facie case, would be viewed "as if the employer had actually discharged the employee." Lopez, 831 F.2d at 1188 (citation omitted). However, to support a claim for constructive discharge, the ...


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