The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Violet O'Keefe ("O'Keefe")
brings this action against defendant General Accident Insurance Company for disparate treatment and retaliation in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended 1972), 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. Title VII Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (as amended 1978) (West 1985) ("ADEA"); the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
A. Discriminatory Atmosphere
In February of 1987, O'Keefe began working for General Accident Insurance Company ("General Accident") as a Premium Audit Control Clerk.
At that time, she was 54 years old. O'Keefe was hired by George O'Neill, and initially reported to Joe Pomara, the Branch Manager. She was promoted to Underwriter Trainee
in July, 1988. O'Keefe was then promoted to Underwriter I in Commercial Lines
in July, 1989.
O'Keefe alleges that she began encountering problems in her position in August of 1988, when Hank McLaughlin ("McLaughlin") became Underwriting Manager of the White Plains office of General Accident. O'Keefe reported directly to McLaughlin at that time and recounts several incidents where McLaughlin was allegedly abusive to her. For instance, McLaughlin frequently knocked on the glass door of his own office to alert O'Keefe - who was sitting outside - and then once he got her attention, taped a "Do Not Disturb" sign to the glass. McLaughlin also shouted at O'Keefe from time to time, belittled her, and mocked her. While O'Keefe fails to provide specific examples of these particular incidents, they apparently took place in front of her colleagues. In fact, one of her supervisors, Nancy Ruggiero, and a fellow co-worker, Susan Coleman told Mike Smith, the Commercial Lines Underwriting Supervisor, that McLaughlin's constant belittling of O'Keefe was embarrassing to watch.
There is also evidence that McLaughlin impeded O'Keefe's progress at work. According to O'Keefe, McLaughlin frequently joked about testing O'Keefe and her colleagues. On one occasion, though, he did actually test the group. However, everyone but O'Keefe had been given a copy of the test just before it was administered. Not surprisingly, O'Keefe failed. O'Keefe also contends that McLaughlin never responded to her work-related questions, although he did discuss sports with male employees two to three times a week.
There is also some evidence that others at General Accident made discriminatory comments regarding age or sex. For example, one employee joked that an older employee's clothes were not "the latest style." One time O'Keefe forgot something and Nancy Ruggiero, her supervisor, remarked, "That comes with age." Joe Pomara, the branch manager, allegedly commented that some female employees wore "revealing" clothing. He also told O'Keefe that some women at General Accident were more interested in finding a partner than they were in their work. In another instance, McLaughlin allegedly asked a female employee during a disagreement, "You're not going to cry?"
1. O'Keefe's version of events
There is sharp disagreement as to the course of events leading to O'Keefe's termination. O'Keefe contends that in October of 1991, McLaughlin called her and her supervisor, Ruggiero, into his office and said, "Why don't you look for another job?" She said that she did not want to look for another job. McLaughlin then suggested she take a job in Personal Lines. Believing that the proposed transfer was qualitatively different from her job in Commercial Lines, O'Keefe declined the transfer offer. Not only did she think that the job would be a demotion, but she would still be reporting to McLaughlin. According to O'Keefe, at that time it was unclear to her that her refusal to switch positions would result in any adverse effect on her employment.