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CROSSMAN v. CROSSON

November 6, 1995

JUNE FAULKNER CROSSMAN, SOPHIE B. CHMIL, DOROTHY McGOUGH and IDA K. GALANTE, Plaintiffs against MATTHEW T. CROSSON, Chief Administrator of the Courts of New York State, IRVING C. SPERBER, Chief Clerk of the Nassau County Family Court, HAROLD BUTLER, Deputy Chief Clerk of the Nassau County Family Court, CHARLES R. KOSTER, LOIS MITCHELL, PETER LIOIO and ROBERT PALMER, Associate Court Clerks of the Nassau County Family Court, individually and as agents, servants, and/or employees of the New York State Office of Court Administration, Defendants.

SEYBERT, District Judge:

 In the instant employment-discrimination action brought pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the plaintiffs, current or former employees of the Nassau County Family Court, assail various employee practices of the New York State Office of Court Administration. Pending before the Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion is granted and this action is dismissed in its entirety.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs are current or former employees of the Nassau County Family Court. Defendants, meanwhile, are agents and employees of the New York State Office of Court Administration. The plaintiffs allege that they have been discriminated against in their employment on account of their race, religion, sex, national origin, age, and moreover in retaliation for their whistleblowing activities. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants' discriminatory practices manifested themselves in unequal terms and conditions of employment, and in harassment, including sexual harassment.

 Plaintiffs filed an administrative complaint with the Unified Court System Equal Employment Opportunity ["UCS EEO"] office on June 13, 1990. On January 29, 1991, Administrative Judge McGinity dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint on the merits. On April 29, 1991, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Traficanti affirmed Judge McGinity's determination.

 Without having filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ["EEOC"], the plaintiffs, on September 23, 1991, commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ["ADEA"], 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and other discriminatory practices, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ["Title VII"], 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The plaintiff's original complaint was signed by an attorney. Judge Munson dismissed this complaint without prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The plaintiffs thereafter filed an amended complaint pro se. This case was then transferred, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

 The defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 on the ground that the plaintiffs have not complied with the statutory prerequisites for bringing this action in federal court. Specifically, the defendants assail the plaintiffs' failure to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC, and their consequent inability to procure a right-to-sue letter from that agency.

 DISCUSSION

 Under the law of the Second Circuit, a district court must weigh the following considerations in evaluating whether to grant a motion for summary judgment with respect to a particular claim:

 
First, summary judgment may not be granted unless "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Second, the burden is upon the moving party to demonstrate that no genuine issue respecting any material fact exists. In considering that, third, all ambiguities must be resolved and all inferences drawn in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Fourth, the moving party may obtain summary judgment by showing that little or no evidence may be found in support of the nonmoving party's case. When no rational jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party because the evidence to support its case is so slight, there is no genuine issue of material fact and a grant of summary judgment is proper. . . . Finally, the trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding, it does not extend to issue-resolution.

 Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., L.P., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (2d Cir. 1994) (internal case citations omitted). In evaluating the above considerations, a court must be mindful of whether the purported factual dispute is material, because "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. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).

 A plaintiff generally is required to file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act as a prerequisite to bringing a Title VII action in federal district court. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e). An exception to this rule arises in states, such as New York, that have an agency with the authority to address charges of discriminatory employment practices, and which require the plaintiff to file with both the state agency and the EEOC. In such instances, the plaintiff must file a charge with the EEOC within 300 days after the alleged discriminatory act. See id.; Ryan v. New York State Thruway Auth., 889 F. Supp. 70, 76 (N.D.N.Y. 1995).

 A charge will not always be considered "filed" with the EEOC when it is received from the complainant; rather, a charge alleging a violation of Title VII will be deemed "filed" only after the relevant state agency has had 60 days in which to review the claim, unless the state agency has terminated its proceedings at an earlier date. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c). In New York State, one such relevant state agency is the New York State Division on Human Rights ["DHR"]. See 29 C.F.R. § 1601.74. As a result of this dual agency system, a plaintiff who wishes to bring suit in federal court under Title VII generally must file a complaint with the DHR within 240 days after the alleged discriminatory act to ensure that the charge that he or she files with the EEOC is timely.

 In addition to the foregoing requirements, a plaintiff generally must obtain a "right-to-sue letter" from the EEOC before a suit can be brought in federal ...


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