The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT W. SWEET
Plaintiff Shari Shapiro Gordon ("Gordon") brought this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(j) and 2000e-2(a)(1) and § 296(10)(c) of the New York Human Rights Law claiming that defendant MCI Telecommunications Corp. ("MCI") discriminated against her on the basis of religion. MCI now moves for an order pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 granting summary judgment in its favor and dismissing the complaint. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.
Gordon is an Orthodox Jewish woman who is a resident of Forest Hills, New York.
MCI is a Delaware corporation with offices at 757 Third Avenue in New York City, New York.
Gordon filed a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on August 2, 1989. After receiving a Right to Sue Letter from the EEOC on May 7, 1990, Gordon filed a timely complaint in this court on June 22, 1990. MCI filed the present motion on December 13, 1991. Oral argument was heard and the matter considered fully submitted on March 11, 1992.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed for purposes of this motion.
Gordon is an Orthodox Jewish woman who closely observes the Sabbath. Due to her religious beliefs, she is unable to cook, ride in a car, write, carry money or turn on electricity from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. During the fall and winter months, Gordon must leave work on Fridays in sufficient time to be home and prepare her house for the Sabbath by sundown.
In April 1989, Gordon contacted the employment agency of Bennett & Braun to assist her in finding a job in the field of personnel or human resources. She met with Mark Fiore, a Bennett & Braun employee, who informed her of an opening in the Human Resources Department at MCI.
On April 5, 1989, Gordon interviewed for the position of Staff Assistant in the Human Resources Department of MCI's New York Offices. She met with MCI employees Catthya Britt ("Britt"), then a "Staff Generalist" in Human Resources, and Judi Lindower, then Manager of the department.
On April 6, 1989, Gordon was invited for a second round of interviews at MCI. On this date, Gordon met with Holly Kanski Simboli ("Simboli"), the Staff Assistant Gordon was being interviewed to replace.
Among the responsibilities of the Staff Assistant is the distribution of payroll on alternate Thursday afternoons and the resolution of disputes arising from payroll discrepancies. According to MCI, the Staff Assistant generally handles these disputes on Thursday afternoon on payroll weeks ("payroll Thursdays"), throughout the day on Friday of those weeks ("payroll Fridays") and sometimes on the early days of the following week. MCI claims that Gordon was informed of these responsibilities and that the pace of work on Fridays was very busy. Gordon denies that either these topics or the subject of hours were discussed with her prior to April 7, 1989.
Although she had informed Fiore about her religious practices, Gordon made no mention of her needs to anyone at MCI during the interview process. The issue was first raised with MCI on April 6, 1989 when MCI called Bennett & Braun to extend an offer to Gordon. At that time, Fiore informed MCI that Gordon was an observant Orthodox Jew and would need to leave work early on Friday afternoons during the fall and winter months. Fiore telephoned Gordon that evening and told her about MCI's offer. He also told ...