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LEIBOVITZ v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTH.

May 5, 1998

DIANE LEIBOVITZ, Plaintiff, against NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINSTEIN

Memorandum and Order

 WEINSTEIN, Senior District Judge:

 Table of Contents

 I. INTRODUCTION

 II. FACTS

 III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

 IV. LAW

 
A. Standards of Review
 
B. Hostile Work Environment
 
1. Aggrieved Party
 
a. As a Standing Limitation
 
b. As a Substantive Element
 
2. Evidence Supporting the Damages Award
 
3. Employer Liability

 V. CONCLUSION

 I. INTRODUCTION

 This is a pristine hostile work environment case. The plaintiff, herself a highly-regarded member of middle management, was always treated appropriately and with respect by her co-workers and by her employer. She was never discriminated against on the basis of sex, nor was she personally the target of inappropriate sexual behavior. There was, however, evidence of sexual harassment of other women in her shop that caused her emotional distress. Whether this was sufficient to create an actionable claim for hostile work environment appears to be an issue of first impression.

 Plaintiff Diane Leibovitz sued the New York City Transit Authority and two of its officials, Joseph Hoffman and Monroe Easter, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e et. seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981A, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and parallel New York state statutory and constitutional provisions.

 Plaintiff's constitutional claims were dismissed at the end of trial. The statutory claims were presented to a jury. Only the defendant Transit Authority was held liable on the claim that it violated plaintiff's rights by its "deliberate indifference to widespread discriminatory practices and sexual misconduct against others." The jury awarded $ 60,000 in damages.

 The defendant made timely motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b), 59(a) and (e), and 54(d)(1) for a directed verdict, a new trial, and remittitur. These motions are denied. Judgment is entered for the plaintiff for $ 60,000 without costs or disbursements.

 II. FACTS

 Plaintiff is a Deputy Superintendent for the New York City Transit Authority. She joined the Authority in September of 1985 as a manager in Budget and Administration. At her own request, she was assigned to a car inspection and cleaning shop where the events in question took place.

 There was no problem of a sexually harassing or gender-biased nature until approximately September of 1993. It was then that plaintiff learned that Velma Lorrick, a female car cleaner, was accusing Deputy Superintendent Russ Woodley of sexual harassment. Plaintiff questioned other female employees and was told that another woman, Joann Medina, who was allegedly harassed by Mr. Woodley, had been transferred. It was conceded that much of the alleged harassment did not occur in plaintiff's immediate vicinity and much of what she knew about the situation was second- or third-hand.

 Plaintiff almost immediately spoke with Woodley; with Lenny Axelrod, Manager of Labor Relations, Division of Car Equipment, Department of Rapid Transit Operations; with Pat Davis, Director of the Car Equipment Personnel Department; and with Charles Velotta, Senior Labor Relations Director. There was evidence of a delay in the Authority's investigation of plaintiff's allegations. There was also testimony that the Assistant Chief Mechanical Officer for the North Division, Frank Raia, advised plaintiff that her complaints could be detrimental to her career.

 The Authority presented proof of its procedural mechanisms for investigating and addressing harassment complaints. It did ultimately investigate the complaints and ...


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