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ZERILLI v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTH.

May 30, 1997

TERESA ZERILLI, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERSHON

 GERSHON, United States District Judge:

 This employment discrimination action against the New York City Transit Authority ("the TA") asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, §§ 701 et seq., 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and New York Executive Law, §§ 290 et seq. The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the plaintiff, Teresa Zerilli, on two of her four claims of failure to promote because of her sex and on all four of her claims of retaliation for having engaged in the protected activity of raising claims of employment discrimination; and it awarded her $ 95,000.00 in damages for pain and suffering.

 Ms. Zerilli opted not to seek damages for backpay under her state law claims. She now seeks equitable relief, including an award of backpay, under Title VII. *fn1" Under Title VII, the Court is afforded broad discretion "to fashion the most complete relief possible for victims of discrimination." Gibson v. American Broadcasting Co., 892 F.2d 1128, 1133 (2d Cir. 1989). Accordingly, at my direction, the parties submitted extensive papers on issues of equitable relief and, on March 24, 1997 and April 1, 1997, hearings were conducted. Having fully considered the record, the following equitable relief is awarded.

 I. Backpay.

 There is a strong presumption in favor of awarding backpay to a successful Title VII plaintiff. Indeed, an award of backpay may be denied "only for reasons which, if applied generally, would not frustrate the central statutory purposes of eradicating discrimination throughout the economy and making persons whole for injuries suffered through past discrimination." Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 421, 45 L. Ed. 2d 280, 95 S. Ct. 2362 (1975); see also Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 719, 55 L. Ed. 2d 657, 98 S. Ct. 1370 (1978) ("the Albemarle presumption in favor of retroactive liability can seldom be overcome").

 "Unrealistic exactitude is not required in determining backpay." Grant v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 622 F.2d 43, 47 (2d Cir. 1980). Discretion with respect to awarding backpay should be "exercised in accordance with the 'make whole' purpose of Title VII;" "an award ordinarily ought to be based on the amount which, but for the discrimination, would have been earned, and should cover the period from when the discrimination against the individual began until when it ended." 5 L. Larson, Employment Discrimination, § 92.06 at 92-39 (2d ed. 1996). Guided by these principles, I have determined that Ms. Zerilli should be awarded backpay as described below.

 A. Salary.

 The jury found that Ms. Zerilli was impermissibly removed from the position of Acting Manager of Budget and Personnel in January 1992. This position, however, carried no higher salary than the position to which she returned, Associate Staff Analyst. Therefore, no backpay will be awarded with respect to this removal.

 Backpay will be awarded for two positions that the jury found had been impermissibly denied to Ms. Zerilli: Director of Administrative Support and Analytic Services, which was awarded to another TA employee in August 1992, and Manager of Surface Transit Business Planning, which was awarded to other TA employees in March 1993.

 With respect to the position of Director of Administrative Support and Analytic Services, Ms. Zerilli is entitled to an award for the period of August 1992 through December 1992 in an amount based upon an annual salary of $ 50,200.00, and for the period of January 1993 through February 1993 in an amount based upon an annual salary of $ 52,200.00, all to be reduced by the salary Ms. Zerilli did receive from the TA during these periods.

 With respect to the position of Manager of Surface Transit Business Planning, Ms. Zerilli is entitled to an award of backpay for the period of March 1993 through December 1993 in an amount based upon an annual salary of $ 53,800.00, and for the period of January 1994 through December 1995 in an amount based upon an annual salary of $ 55,950.00. For the period from January 1996 through the date of judgment, backpay will be awarded in an amount based upon an annual salary of $ 58,100.00. Again, subtracted from the award will be the amount of salary Ms. Zerilli received from the TA during these three time periods.

 Finally, the jury also found that Ms. Zerilli was impermissibly denied the position of Superintendent of Transportation, Administration in May 1994. However, since the salary for this position was less than that for Manager, Surface Transit ...


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