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LLOYD v. WABC-TV

March 30, 1995

SAUNDRA LLOYD, Plaintiff, against WABC-TV and CAPITAL CITIES/ABC INC., Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEVIN THOMAS DUFFY

 KEVIN THOMAS DUFFY, D.J.:

 On October 23, 1992, Plaintiff Saundra Lloyd, an African-American, filed an employment discrimination charge against Defendants WABC-TV and Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. (collectively "ABC") with the New York District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter dated August 10, 1993, in which it concluded that Defendants had not violated Title VII and dismissed Plaintiff's charge. Plaintiff subsequently filed the present complaint in this court on November 5, 1993. The complaint alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-5, et seq., in that Plaintiff was required to work in an environment where bias and prejudice existed against African Americans; that this discriminatory atmosphere resulted in her being harassed and treated poorly at work; that she was denied the benefits of seniority and promotion afforded to her co-workers; and that she was repeatedly denied job titles and compensation commensurate with her duties. Plaintiff requests this court to grant an award of back pay as compensation for the discrepancy between her income and that of her Caucasian colleagues; damages for pain and suffering; punitive damages; attorney's fees; and the costs and disbursements of this action. *fn1" On January 18, 1994, Defendants brought the present motion for summary judgment in favor of Defendants and for the dismissal of Plaintiff's Title VII claims.

 For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

 I.

 Plaintiff is an African American woman who has been employed by Defendants since 1981. At present, Plaintiff serves as the New Jersey Bureau Manager/Researcher for the "Eyewitness News" television program at WABC-TV. Prior to obtaining her present position in 1987, Plaintiff had held the positions of Desk Assistant and Researcher. Throughout her career at ABC, Plaintiff has received positive performance evaluations. Among her academic credentials, Plaintiff lists a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Bernard Baruch College of the City University of New York, and also a certification in the Video Technology Training Program at the Institute of New Cinema Artists in New York City.

 Plaintiff alleges six incidents involving discrimination. In February 1983, Plaintiff submitted to her employers a proposal for a television program. Although the then-News Director praised the proposal, the station rejected Plaintiff's program. However, in July 1984, ABC produced and aired a show allegedly resembling the one Plaintiff had proposed.

 In the remaining five incidents, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants denied her job training and/or promotions, instead bestowing these benefits upon Caucasian employees. In 1986, a white male Desk Assistant was given training for and subsequently promoted to the position of "Eyewitness News" Engineer rather than Plaintiff. In 1987, a white female Researcher was given training for and subsequently promoted to the positions of Assignment Editor and Writer, and one year later was promoted to the position of Producer, while Plaintiff received no comparable training or advancement. Also in 1987, Plaintiff was transferred to Defendants' New Jersey office with the understanding that she was to serve as the Bureau Chief, only to discover upon her arrival that a white male had been hired as Bureau Chief instead. In July 1991, a white female was promoted to the position of Writer rather than Plaintiff.

 Finally, despite Plaintiff's requests to be informed of and considered for more advanced positions, a white male was hired as Assignment Editor (Newswriter) *fn2" in September 1992. The individual promoted had worked part-time as a freelance Newswriter at ABC for at least one year, and before that had been employed by one of Defendants' competitors -- the CBS network and WCBS/TV (collectively "CBS") -- for fourteen years. While working for CBS, this individual at various times held the positions of Producer, Editor, Newswriter, and Assignment Editor.

 II.

 DISCUSSION

 1. Summary Judgment Standard

 Summary judgment is appropriate only where the moving party demonstrates that there exists no genuine issue of material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence must be construed and all inferences drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Cable Science Corp. v. Rochdale Village, Inc., 920 F.2d 147, 151 (2d Cir. 1990); Williams v. Smith, 781 F.2d 319, 323 (2d Cir. 1986).

 The moving party bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. A non-moving party can defeat a properly asserted summary judgment motion by demonstrating the existence of a material issue of fact necessitating a trial on the merits. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Williams, 781 F.2d at 323. To sustain this burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); Williams, 781 F.2d at 323 ("Mere conclusory allegations or denials will not suffice.") In turn, the moving party may discharge its burden by "pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of ...


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