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ROSE v. PORT AUTH. OF NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY

July 16, 1998

GERALDINE S. ROSE, Plaintiff, against PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, Defendant.

Peter K. Leisure, U.S.D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEISURE

OPINION AND ORDER

LEISURE, District Judge :

 Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, defendant Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ("Port Authority") moves for summary judgment in the instant matter. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND

 From April of 1990, to September 15, 1995, plaintiff Geraldine S. Rose ("Rose") worked as an Administrative Assistant with the World Trade Institute of the Port Authority. *fn1" Rose alleges that from June of 1991, to September of 1995, the time of her termination from employment, the Port Authority subjected her to continuous discrimination based on her age, gender, race, and religion. See Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Statement, P 4; see also Charge of Discrimination, P 1. *fn2" Rose also alleges that during her employment, the Port Authority gave preferential treatment to younger employees with less seniority and experience. See Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Statement, P 5. Rose further claims that from 1991 to 1993, she addressed her concerns with respect to age and race discrimination to the Director of Human Resources at the Port Authority, see Memorandum to the Director of Human Resources, P 5, and that from 1992 to 1993, the Port Authority excluded her from meetings and otherwise discriminated against her in retaliation for making complaints. See Complaint, PP 13-15.

 On September 15, 1995, the Port Authority terminated Rose, citing business reasons. The Port Authority, which was in the midst of a work force reduction at the time of Rose's termination, claims that it based its decision to eliminate Rose's position in the World Trade Institute upon recommendations from external consultants and internal management staff who entertained no discriminatory reasons for their recommendations. See Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement, PP 12-26.

 Rose argues that the Port Authority terminated her in retaliation for her prior complaints about discrimination and because of her age. See Complaint, P 19. On January 24, 1996, Rose filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in which she claimed ongoing harassment and retaliation for prior complaints about age discrimination. See Charge of Discrimination, PP 1-4. The EEOC issued a Notice of Suit for her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title 42, United States Code. ("U.S.C."), Section 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"). On April 26, 1996, Rose commenced the instant action by filing a Complaint in this Court, alleging Title VII and ADEA violations as well as violations of the New York Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § 296 et seq. ("HRL") and New York City Administrative Code § 8-107 et seq. ("NYCAC"). The Port Authority now moves for summary judgment, arguing that: (1) Rose's claims based on the incidents prior to July 28, 1995, are time barred; *fn3" (2) Rose failed to prove that the Port Authority acted in retaliation for her prior complaints (under Title VII and the ADEA) or discriminated against Rose because of her age (under the ADEA); (3) Rose's HRL and NYCAC claims do not apply to the Port Authority; (4) Rose's HRL and NYCAC claims are barred due to non-compliance with the jurisdictional prerequisite set forth in the Port Authority's suability statute and; (5) Rose is not entitled to punitive damages.

 DISCUSSION

 I. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). When considering a motion for summary judgment, it is this Court's responsibility "not to resolve disputed issues of fact but to assess whether there are any factual issues to be tried, while resolving ambiguities and drawing reasonable inferences against the moving party." Knight v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986). Nonetheless, summary judgment "is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 "A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion." Id. at 325 (internal citations omitted). "The burden on the moving party may be discharged by showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. (internal citations omitted). The burden of demonstrating the existence of a genuine issue of material fact then shifts to the non-moving party. See id. at 322-23. The non-moving party may not rely solely on its pleadings nor on conclusory factual allegations in satisfying this burden. See Gray v. Darien, 927 F.2d 69, 74 (2d Cir. 1991). The non-moving party instead must offer specific evidence supporting its claim that there exists a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In demonstrating that the factual issue in dispute is "genuine", the non-moving party must offer evidence to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in its favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 II. ACTS PRIOR TO JULY 28, 1995

 A. 180-day Time Limit

 For complaints based on Title VII and the ADEA, a plaintiff must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC before commencing an action in federal court. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e). The charge must be filed within 180 days after the occurrence of the alleged unlawful employment practice, or within 300 days if the plaintiff has initiated proceedings with a state or local agency with authority to institute an action regarding the discriminatory practice. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1). In the instant matter, although Rose filed a claim with both the EEOC and the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"), she failed to initiate proceedings with a state agency with authority to institute an action. The NYSDHR is an agency only of the State of New York, and the Port Authority, a bi-state entity created by both New York and New Jersey, is "not subject to the unilateral control of any one of the States that compose the federal system." Hess v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, 513 U.S. 30, 42, 130 L. Ed. 2d 245, 115 S. Ct. 394 (1994); see also Baron v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 968 F. Supp. 924, 928 & 930 n.8 (S.D.N.Y. 1997)(holding that the 180-day, not 300-day, time limit applies to Title VII and ADEA claims brought against the Port Authority as "there is no state agency with jurisdiction to hear a discrimination charge"). Therefore, in cases involving the Port Authority and its liability under Title VII and the ADEA, a plaintiff must file a claim with the EEOC within 180 days of the occurrence of the discriminatory act. However, an exception is allowed for a continuing violation of Title VII and the ADEA.

 B. Continuing Violation Exception

 Although a plaintiff must comply with the 180-day time limit to file a claim with the EEOC, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allows an exception in cases of a continuing violation. See Cornwell v. Robinson, 23 F.3d 694, 703-04 (2d Cir. 1994); see also Gomes v. Avco Corp., 964 F.2d 1330, 1332-33 (2d Cir. 1992). When a plaintiff experiences a continuing violation of Title VII and the ADEA, the last act of discrimination in furtherance of "a continuous practice and policy of discrimination" triggers the commencement of the 180-day time period. Gomes, 964 F.2d at 1333 (quoting Miller v. International Tel. & Tel. Corp., 755 F.2d 20, 25 (2d Cir. 1985)). In these ...


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