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SCHAEFFER v. CITY OF NEW YORK

June 5, 1995

ALLEN SCHAEFFER, Plaintiff, against CITY OF NEW YORK, et. al., Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR.

 HAROLD BAER, JR., *fn1" U.S.D.J.

 Plaintiff Allen Schaeffer, a former employee of the New York City Human Resources Administration ("HRA"), sued the City of New York (the "City"), the City's Mayor, and six *fn2" HRA employees and administrators ("defendants") based on alleged retaliatory actions taken by defendants in response to a complaint plaintiff made to the Department of Investigations ("DOI") concerning the procedures for disciplining HRA employees. Plaintiff's first cause of action alleges violation of his First Amendment rights, arguing that his complaint to DOI constitutes protected "speech." Plaintiff's second cause of action alleges a dubious violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause: plaintiff claims that in allegedly retaliating on the basis of his complaint to DOI, defendants failed to afford plaintiff equal protection under the city's "whistleblower" policy. Plaintiff also pursues a state cause of action for unpaid wages in the amount of $ 2,386.10. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on plaintiff's federal claims.

 I heard oral argument on this summary judgment motion on April 6, 1995. For the reasons detailed below, I grant defendants' motion for summary judgment in its entirety, and I do not exercise pendent jurisdiction over plaintiff's state claim for unpaid wages.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff worked as a supervisor in HRA's Medical Assistance Program ("MAP"). He supervised two teams of supervisors, caseworkers, and other employees who administered health care services. In September 1986, Schaeffer wrote a memorandum to James Proffit, his immediate supervisor and a defendant in this action, recommending that a certain HRA employee be charged with misconduct. Proffit's supervisor, Dennis Deering, forwarded Schaeffer's memo to the MAP personnel Director for further action. Plaintiff believed that HRA's internal procedures required Proffit instead to forward the memo directly to the director of the agency-wide HRA Employee Discipline Division, Alfred Duke. Plaintiff therefore proceeded to speak with Duke concerning the matter. Duke told plaintiff that before formally commencing disciplinary proceedings, he should speak with the supervisor he wanted to discipline in order to provide her an opportunity to tell her side of the story. Schaeffer refused to do this, claiming that HRA procedure did not require it. Schaeffer, however, admits that HRA's guidelines expressly state that it is "good supervisory practice" to speak with the employee sought to be disciplined before initiating formal disciplinary proceedings.

 The only specific incidents that plaintiff has cited as retaliatory all occurred three years after the date of his DOI complaint. I find there are no triable issues of fact and defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because plaintiff will be unable to establish the causation he must prove in order to prevail on his claims.

 II. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for summary judgment where the evidence shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and [that] the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Summary judgment "is properly regarded . . . as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to 'secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 1). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a court must resolve all ambiguities, and draw all inferences, against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176, 82 S. Ct. 993 (1962) (per curiam); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd. of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). An issue of credibility is insufficient to preclude the granting of a motion for summary judgment. Neither side can rely on conclusory allegations; instead, the disputed issues of fact must be supported by evidence that would allow a "rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Finally, factual disputes that are irrelevant to the disposition of the suit under governing law will not preclude entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

 III. DISCUSSION

 A. First Amendment Claim

 To succeed on his First Amendment claim, plaintiff "must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the speech at issue was protected, that he suffered an adverse employment action, and that there was a causal connection between the protected speech and the adverse employment action." Blum v. Schlegel, 18 F.3d 1005, 1010 (2d Cir. 1994) (citing Mount Healthy Sch. Dist. Bd. ...


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