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POLLIS v. NEW SCH. FOR SOC. RESEARCH

July 2, 1996

ADAMANTIA POLLIS, Plaintiff, against THE NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAIGHT

 HAIGHT, Senior District Judge:

 Following a jury verdict in plaintiff's favor in this age discrimination and equal pay case, the form of the judgment to be entered, including allowances of attorney's fees and costs, remained to be determined by the Court. In keeping with the tradition established at the inception of this contentious litigation, counsel for the parties have submitted voluminous and increasingly shrill written submissions. This Memorandum Opinion resolves all outstanding issues, so that judgment may enter.

 I

 The Litigation History

 Familiarity with the Court's several prior opinions in this case is presumed. I set forth the litigation history only to the extent necessary to furnish the background for a resolution of the remaining disputes.

 At the pertinent times, plaintiff Adamantia Pollis was a tenured professor of political science on the graduate faculty of defendant The New School for Social Research (the "New School"). In mid-December, 1992, the New School advised Pollis that she would be retired from her tenured appointment upon reaching the age of 70 on June 22, 1993. The New School offered Pollis continued part-time employment as an adjunct professor.

 Pollis did not go gently into that academic twilight. Instead, she sued the New School in this Court. Pollis's complaint alleged that the New School's actions violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 623 et. seq.; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq.; the Equal Pay Act ("EPA"), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) et. seq.; and § 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law. Pollis moved for a preliminary injunction restraining the New School from involuntarily retiring her at age 70. She based that motion for preliminary equitable relief upon her ADEA and Title VII claims.

 The New School moved for partial summary judgment dismissing four of the five causes of action alleged in the complaint, including Pollis's claims under the ADEA and Title VII. The Court dismissed Pollis's ADEA claims.

 But the Court rejected the New School's contention that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Pollis's Title VII claims. Memorandum Opinion and Order dated July 21, 1993 at slip op. 4-14. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Court denied Pollis's motion for a preliminary injunction, on the ground that Pollis had failed to demonstrate the requisite irreparable injury. Id. at slip op. 44. However, the Court ended its opinion on a cautionary note:

 
If Pollis reports for duty in the fall as an adjunct professor with the additional responsibility of mentoring or supervising candidates for master's and doctoral degrees sufficiently advanced in their work, and encounters a denial of office space reasonably necessitated by her responsibilities, a denial of full library privileges, a barring of the door to the computer facilities, and a pretense on the part of the institution telephone switchboard that Pollis is no longer affiliated with the New School, or any combination of these deprivations (which Provost Walzer gave the Court to understand should not be anticipated), then the Court might well take a different view of the matter. Certainly Pollis, in such circumstances, could revive the Court's limited subject matter jurisdiction, and apply again for preliminary injunctive relief.

 Id. at slip op. 44-45.

 Whether inspired by this judicial language or not, the New School tendered to Pollis, during her enforced service as an adjunct professor, the usual facilities and courtesies attendant upon that academic rank. Pollis did not reapply for a preliminary injunction.

 Discovery went forward. In January 1996, Pollis's Title VII, EPA, and New York State Human Rights Law claims were tried to a jury, which rendered its findings in the form of a Special Verdict. With respect to Pollis's Title VII claim that her post-retirement treatment was discriminatory on the basis of gender, the jury found in her favor, awarded her $ 60,000 as compensatory damages for emotional distress and humiliation, and $ 40,000 in punitive damages.

 With respect to Pollis's EPA claims, the jury found in her favor with respect to each of the five male professors specifically identified by Pollis as "comparators;" found that the New School had not proven any of the EPA defenses; and found further that the New School, in paying Pollis less than her male comparators, knew that it was violating the EPA or acted with reckless disregard for its provisions, and was acting in furtherance of an ongoing policy or practice to pay female tenured professors less than male tenured professors.

 However, the jury rejected Pollis's Title VII claim that, with respect to her pre-retirement compensation, the New School intentionally discriminated against her on the basis of her gender. Accordingly, the jury rejected Pollis's claims for compensatory damages for emotional distress and humiliation and for punitive damages during the pre-retirement period.

 Following the jury's verdict, Pollis and the New School submitted cross-judgments which, predictably enough, differed significantly. The Court resolved those disputes in a Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 15, 1996, reserving for later decision only the parties' cross-claims for attorney's fees. That opinion recited that the judgment will contain the $ 60,000 and $ 40,000 for post-retirement compensatory and punitive damages, respectively; and $ 186,388, the amount calculated by Pollis for the New School's willful violation of the Equal Pay Act, together with prejudgment interest in the amount of $ 85,418.

 The Court rejected Pollis's calculations of her Title VII post-retirement claims. Her proposed judgment included (1) the amount of $ 51,090 representing backpay, together with prejudgment interest through January 31, 1996 in the amount of $ 12,285; and (2) a demand for additional compensation as front pay, at annual rates of $ 30,000 from January 1, 1996 through June 30, 1998, and $ 25,000 through June 30, 2001.

 The Court, which has the responsibility of adjudicating these forms of relief in Title VII cases, see 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(2), reduced these amounts significantly. Backpay will be awarded in the amount of $ 21,500, exclusive of prejudgment interest. Two years' front pay will be awarded in a total amount of $ 16,200. See Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 15, 1996 at slip op. 6-10.

 It is against this litigation history that the present cross-motions for the allowance of attorney's fees ...


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