that defendants' salary actions violated Federal and New York State equal protection guarantees by irrationally discriminating between managers and nonmanagerial employees (unionized and OJ employees) since the latter received salary increases after the Mayoral Directive went in force. Plaintiffs also contend that defendants' salary actions violated Federal and New York State constitutional due process guarantees as well as the New York City Charter.
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on May 15, 1992 which plaintiffs opposed on May 29, 1992. Defendants replied on June 5, 1992 and argument was held on June 19, 1992.
III. The Standard for Summary Judgment
Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be granted when the court concludes from the record before it that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).
The mere existence of disputed facts will not preclude entry of summary judgment. See, e.g., Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11-12 (2d Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 932, 94 L. Ed. 2d 762, 107 S. Ct. 1570 (1987); Cubby, Inc. v. Compuserve Inc., 776 F. Supp. 135, 138 (S.D.N.Y. 1991); United Bank of Kuwait PLC v. Enventure Energy Enhanced Oil Recovery Assoc., 755 F. Supp. 1195, 1199 (S.D.N.Y. 1989). Rather, "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248; see also Herbert Constr. Co. v. Continental Ins. Co., 931 F.2d 989, 993 (2d Cir. 1991).
Once the moving party meets its burden by "pointing out the absence of evidence to support the nonmovant's claims," Citizens Bank of Clearwater v. Hunt, 927 F.2d 707, 710 (2d Cir. 1991) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)), the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish that a genuine issue of fact exists for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 250.
The nonmoving party must then produce "sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. . . . If the evidence is merely colorable, . . . or is not significantly probative, . . . summary judgment may be granted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249-50; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986). The nonmoving party may not simply rely upon "speculation, conclusory allegations, and mere denials . . . to raise genuine issues of [material] fact." National Westminster Bank v. Ross, 676 F. Supp. 48, 51 (S.D.N.Y. 1987); see also Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co. v. Conrail, 902 F.2d 174, 178 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 114 L. Ed. 2d 125, 111 S. Ct. 2041 (1991). Rather, the nonmoving party "must provide 'concrete particulars' showing that a trial is needed, and 'it is not sufficient merely to assert a conclusion without supplying supporting argument or facts.'" R. G. Group, Inc. v. Horn & Hardart Co., 751 F.2d 69, 77 (2d Cir. 1984) (citation omitted); see also Resource Developers, Inc. v. Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Found., Inc., 926 F.2d 134, 139 (2d Cir. 1991).
IV. Plaintiffs' Equal Protection Claims
Plaintiffs' equal protection claims allege that defendants' decision not to grant managers a salary increase and to cut the salaries of certain managers, while agreeing to salary increases for nonmanagerial employees, violates the Equal Protection Clause. See Complaint PP25-35 (Claim One), PP44-45 (Claim Four). This complaint is economic -- that defendants' decision to set salaries for different groups of employees based upon employee classifications established by the State and City legislatures violates the Constitution.
A. The Rational Basis Standard
An equal protection challenge based upon an economic classification must be judged under a "rational basis" standard. This standard of review has been derived by a long line of cases and is extremely deferential. Indeed, where governmental action implicates purely economic interests, "courts have not, since the days of the Depression, interfered with legislative judgments rationally related to a legitimate governmental objective." Image Carrier Corp. v. Beame, 567 F.2d 1197, 1203 (2d Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 979, 60 L. Ed. 2d 239, 99 S. Ct. 1785 (1979).
The rational basis standard has two prongs: (1) the challenged action must have a legitimate purpose and (2) it must have been reasonable for the lawmakers to believe that use of the challenged classification would promote that purpose. Western & S. Life Ins. Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization, 451 U.S. 648, 668, 68 L. Ed. 2d 514, 101 S. Ct. 2070 (1981); see Lyng v. International Union, United Auto. Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers, 485 U.S. 360, 370, 99 L. Ed. 2d 380, 108 S. Ct. 1184 (1988); Schweiker v. Wilson, 450 U.S. 221, 235, 67 L. Ed. 2d 186, 101 S. Ct. 1074 (1981) (governmental regulation will be upheld under rational basis scrutiny "as long as the classificatory scheme chosen . . . rationally advances a reasonable and identifiable governmental objective"); Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery Co., 449 U.S. 456, 461-63, 66 L. Ed. 2d 659, 101 S. Ct. 715 (1981); Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93, 97, 59 L. Ed. 2d 171, 99 S. Ct. 939 (1979); Massachusetts Bd. of Retirement v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 312, 49 L. Ed. 2d 520, 96 S. Ct. 2562 (1976); 701 Pharmacy Corp. v. Perales, 930 F.2d 163, 166 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 116 L. Ed. 2d 42, 112 S. Ct. 67 (1991).
An economic classification such as the defendants' salary actions "will not be set aside if any state [set] of facts reasonably may be conceived to justify it." McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 425, 6 L. Ed. 2d 393, 81 S. Ct. 1101 (1961). Indeed, defendants' actions are entitled to a "presumption of rationality that can only be overcome by a clear showing or arbitrariness and irrationality." Hodel v. Indiana, 452 U.S. 314, 331-32, 69 L. Ed. 2d 40, 101 S. Ct. 2376 (1981); see also Brown v. Bowen, 905 F.2d 632, 635 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 111 S. Ct. 979, 112 L. Ed. 2d 1064 (1991); 701 Pharmacy Corp. v. Perales, 930 F.2d at 166 (economic regulation "'presumed to be valid'"); New York State Ass'n of Career Schools v. State Educ. Dep't, 749 F. Supp. 1264, 1273 (S.D.N.Y. 1990) ("review of the classification must presume that the Legislature acted within constitutional limits"); Subway-Surface Supervisors Ass'n v. New York City Transit Auth., 56 A.D.2d 53, 59, 392 N.Y.S.2d 460, 466 (2d Dep't 1977) ("power of the Legislature to regulate fiscal affairs is greater, in relation to the Equal Protection Clause, than in any other field"), modified on other grounds, 44 N.Y.2d 101, 375 N.E.2d 384, 404 N.Y.S.2d 323 (1978).
In addressing the first prong of the rational basis test -- whether the governmental purpose is legitimate -- the governmental action will be upheld if the court can "conceive" of a legitimate governmental purpose. See United States R.R. Retirement Bd. v. Fritz, 449 U.S. 166, 179, 66 L. Ed. 2d 368, 101 S. Ct. 453 (1980); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. at 425-26; Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 612, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1435, 80 S. Ct. 1367 (1960); Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 488-89, 99 L. Ed. 563, 75 S. Ct. 461 (1955). Courts are not empowered to weigh the merits of alternatives, rather the "review is confined to the legitimacy of the purpose." Western & S. Life Ins. Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization, 451 U.S. at 670 (citation omitted). Moreover, the articulated governmental purpose is presumed to be a true purpose unless the facts clearly establish otherwise. Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery Co., 449 U.S. at 463 n.7.
Similarly, courts will not inquire into whether the classification at issue is the best way to effectuate a legitimate state purpose. "As long as the classifactory scheme chosen . . . rationally advances a reasonable and identifiable governmental objective, [the court] must disregard the existence of other methods of allocation." Schweiker v. Wilson, 450 U.S. at 235; see also New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303, 49 L. Ed. 2d 511, 96 S. Ct. 2513 (1976) (Supreme Court "consistently defers to legislative determinations as to the desirability of particular statutory discriminations.").
Moreover, the facts upon which an economic classification has been made are presumed true. Where economic classifications are concerned, "those challenging the legislative judgment must convince the court that the legislative facts on which the classification is apparently based could not reasonably be conceived to be true by the governmental decisionmaker." Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. at 111; Klotsche v. City of New York, 621 F. Supp. 1113, 1118 (S.D.N.Y. 1985).
A classification also will be upheld notwithstanding that it suffers from under- or overinclusiveness. See Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 485, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491, 90 S. Ct. 1153 (1970); 701 Pharmacy Corp. v. Perales, 930 F.2d at 166. The test for constitutional purposes is not whether the legislative scheme is imperfect, but whether it is entirely irrational. Pennell v. San Jose, 485 U.S. 1, 14, 99 L. Ed. 2d 1, 108 S. Ct. 849 (1988). Indeed, the Supreme Court emphasized that the courts:
will not overturn such a statute unless the varying treatment of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that [courts] can only conclude that the legislature's actions were irrational.