The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET
Defendants Pfizer, Inc. ("Pfizer") and William C. Steere Jr. ("Steere") have moved for summary judgment in this action brought by plaintiff Maureen Branker ("Branker"), under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq., the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), N.Y. City Admin. Code § 8-502, and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 et seq.. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.
Pfizer is a Delaware corporation doing business in New York.
Branker is an African-American woman, whose date of birth is September 30, 1949. She was employed at Pfizer from 1979 until 1995.
In this action, Branker alleges that Pfizer failed to promote her to the position of financial analyst and terminated her in 1995 as a result of her age and race. On December 11, 1996, Branker filed the complaint in this action, asserting violations of Title VII, the ADEA, the NYCHRL, and the NYSHRL. In her complaint, Branker also claimed intentional infliction of emotional distress based on the fraudulent inducement of her signature on the release, and on assertions that the CEO of Pfizer, Steere, "misrepresented to her that he would investigate her claims and offer assistance to her." At oral argument, Branker's counsel elaborated that Branker met with Steere and the General Counsel of Pfizer after her termination to discuss possible discrimination against her. According to Branker's counsel, Steere promised to investigate her allegations and to provide Branker with assistance in her new venture, a restaurant, but instead commenced an investigation of Branker.
On June 4, 1997, Pfizer filed the instant motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P. Argument was heard on September 3, 1997, on which date Branker's counsel faxed opposition papers to the Court. On September 11, 1997, Pfizer filed its reply papers, and the motion was then deemed fully submitted.
Branker began her employment at Pfizer as a secretary in its Pharmaceutical/Controllers Department. She rose through promotion to the position of senior financial associate. In 1993, Branker began reporting to Helen Lang, who had become Controller and then Director of Finance in the U.S. Pharmaceutical Group. At the same time, Branker's main responsibility, reconciliation of monthly expenses, was reduced by the introduction of a sophisticated computer system.
In June 1994, Branker received a performance appraisal from Lang which rated her performance as satisfactory, but expressed a concern regarding her communication skills and insufficient knowledge of the use of a new computer system. Branker indicated her strong disagreement with Lang's view of her performance, and submitted further facts related to her accomplishments and her intention to take computer courses in 1994.
In 1995, Lang delivered a performance review which rated Branker's work as less than satisfactory, and expressed concerns with Branker's failure to plan and set priorities, and her failure to increase an understanding of the needs of the new organization. Branker again submitted a rebuttal and suggested alterations to the account of her work performance.
In 1995, the U.S. pharmaceuticals group of Pfizer was restructured by the merging of the three different divisions into one. Supervisors of each division reviewed the functions of their organizations in order to reduce staffing. On or about April 24, 1995, Branker met with Lang and Len Stephens, the Director of Human Resources for the U.S. Pharmaceutical Group. Lang and Stephens informed Branker that, due to the reorganization, Lang had to reduce her staff and that Branker's position was being eliminated. They also told Branker that she would have forty-five days before termination, and gave her a form releasing all claims arising out of her employment or termination. She was told to review the release over the forty-five day period. Stephens advised Branker that she did not have to sign the release if she did not want to, and that she would receive a separation package regardless of whether she signed the release. Stephens also advised Branker to seek the advice of counsel prior to signing the release. After consultation with an ...