On or about August 16, 1993 Kotlowski filed an administrative complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR") charging that the Awareness Warning memo was unfair because Kodak failed to accommodate her alleged disability. The complaint also alleged that Kodak denied her salary increases due to her disability, age and sex.
Also during the month of August, the MMO group began a "downsizing selection process" in an effort to reduce operating costs. MMO group managers and supervisors conducted a so-called "ranking session" for the purpose of evaluating every "business support" employee, including Kotlowski. At these sessions each employee's job performance was ranked according to the following factors: analysis, effectiveness, execution, innovativeness, technical skill and business skills. According to Carroll Anderson, the Human Resources Representative for the MMO division, there was absolutely no discussion by anyone at the ranking session of any employee's age, sex, or medical condition. Nor was there any discussion of Kotlowski's attendance or tardiness records, or her recently filed EEOC charge. Bernard Law, Kotlowski's immediate supervisor throughout 1991 and 1993, did not take part in this ranking session. Only Regis Rocco, Law's supervisor, took part.
Kotlowski received the lowest rating of all evaluated employees, based upon her substantive performance only. Accordingly, she was laid off October 4th, effective December 5, 1993.
Kotlowski filed another NYSDHR complaint on November 8, 1993, alleging that she was laid off in retaliation for her earlier NYSDHR filing.
Despite the fact that Kotlowski had received an Awareness Warning in May 1993 (which prohibited her from participating in Kodak's internal job search program for six months), she was permitted to and did apply for a number of other positions within Kodak. However, she did not secure any of those jobs.
This action was commenced on January 19, 1994. Kotlowski asserts that she was laid off because of her disability (depression) in violation of the ADA and the NYHRL. She also alleges that she was laid off because of her age and/or sex, in violation of Title VII, the ADEA, and the NYHRL. She also alleges that she was laid off and then denied other jobs at Kodak in retaliation for filing the NYSDHR complaint. Finally, she asserts that she was denied equal pay, in violation of the EPA.
A. Summary Judgment Standards:
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), a moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law if there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). The burden is on the moving party to inform the court of the basis for its motion and to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). After the moving party has carried its burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, supra, at 586. "The non-moving party must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (alteration in original)). However, at the summary judgment stage, when perusing the record to determine whether a rational fact-finder could find for the non-moving party, all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Murray v. National Broadcasting Co., 844 F.2d 988, 992 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 955, 102 L. Ed. 2d 380, 109 S. Ct. 391 (1988).
The general principles underlying a motion for summary judgment apply no less to this action simply because it is an employment discrimination case. It is true that courts exercise caution when considering whether to grant summary judgment in cases where an employer's intent is at issue. See, e.g., Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). However, "summary judgment remains available to reject discrimination claims in cases lacking genuine issues of material fact." Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 40 (2d Cir. 1994). For a plaintiff in a discrimination case to survive a motion for summary judgment, he or she must do more than present "conclusory allegations of discrimination," Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989 (2d Cir.) cert. denied, 474 U.S. 829, 88 L. Ed. 2d 74, 106 S. Ct. 91 (1985); he or she must offer "concrete particulars" to substantiate the claim. Id., cited in, Duprey v. Prudential Ins. Co., 910 F. Supp. 879 (N.D.N.Y. 1996).
B. Summary Judgment Analysis in Discrimination Cases:
When analyzing a summary judgment motion in a discrimination case, courts apply the three step analytical framework first set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973), and later refined by Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 67 L. Ed. 2d 207, 101 S. Ct. 1089 (1981). See Viola v. Philips Medical Systems, 42 F.3d 712 (2d Cir. 1994)(applying McDonnell Douglas in an ADEA case); Heilweil v. Mt. Sinai Hospital, 32 F.3d 718, 721-22 (2d Cir. 1994)(applying McDonnell Douglas in a Rehabilitation Act case); Duprey, supra, (applying McDonnell Douglas in an ADA case). The three steps are as follows:
first the plaintiff has the burden of proving by the preponderance of the evidence a prima facie case of discrimination. Second, if the plaintiff succeeds in proving the prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's rejection. . ." Third, should the defendant carry this burden, the plaintiff must then have an opportunity to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the legitimate reasons offered by the defendant were not its true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination.