questions prior to administering the exam, the District Board of Education followed Superintendent Leahy's recommendation and terminated the teacher, Elba Rios. (See Wotorson Aff. Exh. 44.) Like Richardson, Rios was a probationary teacher at NFA. Like Richardson, she disclosed exam questions to her students prior to the exam date. And like Richardson, the error cost Rios her job.
Incredibly, while asserting the comparability of several wholly dissimilar incidents, Richardson contends that the Rios case is distinguishable from hers. (See Pl. Mem. at 29.) The only differences between the Richardson and Rios cases appear to be that Rios was terminated in part because of her poor teaching performance, and that Rios compromised a local, as opposed to a national, exam. Although Rios' termination was in part a product of incompetent performance, which was not a factor in Richardson's case, the consequences of Richardson compromising the nationally administered AP English examination -- to the students, the NFA, and the District -- were arguably more significant than those involved in Rios' premature disclosure of a local exam. In any event, in the case most similar to Richardson's, the District meted out the same punishment -- termination.
We find that Richardson is wholly unable to demonstrate that the circumstances surrounding her resignation gave rise to an inference of racial discrimination. Accordingly, Richardson cannot establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination despite its minimal requirements.
B. Richardson's Title VII Claim is Dismissed
Even assuming that Richardson could meet her prima facie burden, the District has clearly articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for recommending Richardson's termination. Richardson must provide proof not only that the District's explanation is false, but also that unlawful discrimination was its true motivation in moving to terminate her. See Hicks, 509 U.S. at 515-16; Fisher, 114 F.3d at 1338-39. Richardson can do neither.
Apparently, Richardson and her attorneys are unaware that Title VII is not an all-purpose tool for disgruntled employees wishing to challenge their employers' legitimate, if harsh, business decisions. Cf. Jimoh v. Ernst & Young, 908 F. Supp. 220, 226 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) ("To prove [a] racial discrimination claim, plaintiff must do more than simply disagree with defendant's business decisions.") As discussed above, Richardson has provided no probative evidence of unlawful discrimination.
Any additional facts or arguments put forth by Richardson that are not discussed above have been duly considered by this Court and are meritless. The District's motion for summary judgment on Richardson's Title VII claim is granted.
III. New York State Human Rights Law
Based on the same alleged racial discrimination, Richardson also brings a claim under the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 296. Although we are dismissing Richardson's Title VII claim, we exercise our discretion under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) to retain supplemental jurisdiction over her NYSHRL claim based on judicial economy and the close relationship between her federal and state claims. See Kudatzky v. Galbreath Co., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14445, No. 96-2693, 1997 WL 598586, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 1997); Aquinas v. Federal Express Corp., 940 F. Supp. 73, 79 (S.D.N.Y. 1996); Sweet v. Electronic Data Sys., Inc., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5544, No. 95-3987, 1996 WL 204471, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 26, 1996).
The NYSHRL provides, inter alia, that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against any employee because of her race. N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(1)(a) (McKinney Supp. 1997). The same analysis is used to determine the sufficiency of Title VII and NYSHRL claims. Kremer v. Chemical Constr. Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 479, 72 L. Ed. 2d 262, 102 S. Ct. 1883 (1982); Van Zant v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 80 F.3d 708, 714-15 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Miller Brewing Co. v. State Div. of Human Rights, 66 N.Y.2d 937, 498 N.Y.S.2d 776, 489 N.E.2d 745 (1986)); Boyce v. New York City Mission Soc., 963 F. Supp. 290, 295 (S.D.N.Y. 1997).
Therefore, because our Title VII analysis dictates our determination of the pendent NYSHRL claim, we grant the District's motion for summary judgment with respect to the latter claim as well.
IV. Contract/Privacy Claim
As her third and final cause of action, Richardson complains that the District "permitted the disclosure of confidential material concerning [her] in breach of her contractual rights and in violation of her common law privacy rights." (Compl. P 53.) We will exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
There are several problems with this claim. To begin with, Richardson's brief in opposition to summary judgment, while purporting to address this third cause of action, argues an entirely different point. The complaint appears to take issue with the information disclosed by Mattausch at the October 6, 1993 faculty meeting. Yet in her motion papers, Richardson contends that the District "breached a contract by terminating Dr. Richardson's employment." (Pl. Mem. at 32.) She appears to be arguing that either Superintendent Leahy's recommendation to terminate her or the Board's acceptance of her resignation constituted a contractual breach. (See id. at 32-34.) Although this contention appears meritless, we need not address it because Richardson did not raise it in her complaint. See Corporate Training Unlimited, Inc. v. National Broadcasting Co., 868 F. Supp. 501, 1997 WL 651266, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. 1997); Penny Lane Owners Corp. v. Conthur Development Co., 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13651, No. 94-0940, 1997 WL 563866, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 10, 1997). Because we are dismissing Richardson's federal claim, she will not be allowed to amend her complaint. Cf. Penny Lane Owners Corp., 1997 WL 563866, at *1.
At the same time, Richardson did not brief the claim that she does appear to have raised in the complaint -- i.e., that Mattausch's disclosures at the October 6, 1993 faculty meeting violated her contractual and privacy rights. Regardless of Richardson's inattention to this claim, it suffers from two fatal flaws. First, there simply is no common law right of privacy under New York law. Groden v. Random House, Inc., 61 F.3d 1045, 1049 (2d Cir. 1995); Hurwitz v. United States, 884 F.2d 684, 685 (2d Cir. 1989); Howell v. New York Post Co., 81 N.Y.2d 115, 612 N.E.2d 699, 703, 596 N.Y.S.2d 350, 354 (N.Y. Ct. App. 1993). Second, Richardson has identified no contractual provision that Mattausch's faculty-meeting disclosures allegedly breached. According to the District, this is because there is no such provision. (Def. Mem. at 16; Mattausch Aff. P 38.) Richardson has failed to present a triable issue as to any contractual breach.
Accordingly, the District's summary judgment motion is granted with respect to Richardson's third cause of action.
For the reasons discussed above, the District's motion for summary judgment is granted with respect to all claims. Richardson's Complaint is dismissed in its entirety. An appropriate judgment shall be entered by the Clerk of the Court.
Dated: November 12, 1997
White Plains, NY
William C. Conner
Senior United States District Judge