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June 16, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: McKENNA, District Judge.


Plaintiff Ricardo Arroyo ("Arroyo") brought this action against defendants WestLB Administration, Inc. and Westdeutsche Landesbank (collectively, the "Bank") alleging racial discrimination and unlawful termination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq. (Title VII), the New York State Human Rights Law ("State HRL"), N YExec.Law § 290 et. seq. (McKinney 1986), and the New York City Human Rights Law ("City HRL"), N.Y.C.Admin.Code § 8-101 et. seq.*fn1 Arroyo also alleges that the Bank negligently caused him to suffer emotional distress, and that it negligently retained one of its employees. The Bank now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order dismissing the complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Bank's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint.


Arroyo, a Hispanic male, commenced employment with the Bank in January 1990 as a money market foreign exchange clerk. (See Defs.' Ex. 3 Arroyo Dep. at 5). During the summer of 1993, Arroyo received a job offer from another firm and resigned from the Bank. (See id. at 5-7). The Bank then offered Arroyo a position as a money market trader's assistant to convince him to stay. (See id.). Arroyo, whose goal was to become a trader's assistant, and ultimately, a trader, accepted the position. (See id. at 6-7). His new responsibilities included tracking the deals made by the traders with whom he worked and then inputting the trade tickets for those deals into a computer. (See Defs.' Ex. 4 Barton Dep. at 21-22).

Arroyo's allegations of hostile work environment are based on the following incidents.

August 1993

Neil Williamson, who is black, was hired by the Bank in August 1992 as a foreign exchange desk clerk to work on the trading floor. (See Defs.' Ex. 10; Barton Dep. at 25). Beginning in 1993, Arroyo and Williamson interacted in performing their jobs. According to Chris Doyle, who supervised Arroyo and Williamson in 1994 and 1995, they were responsible for assisting each other during busy periods. (See Defs.' Ex. 5 Doyle Dep. at 9, 21; Defs.' Ex. 7 Williamson Dep. at 62-63).

In or about August or September 1993, Arroyo and Williamson had an argument on the trading floor, witnessed by several employees. (See Arroyo Dep. at 10, 14-16; Barton Dep. at 33). According to Williamson, the day of the argument was unusually busy and he claims to have asked Arroyo for help in entering the remaining trade tickets into the computer. (See Williamson Dep. at 12-14). He contends that Arroyo refused, spurring their argument. (See id. at 14). Arroyo testified at his deposition that during the argument Williamson called him a "`fucking spic'" and "`fucking asshole,'" and accused him of thinking only of himself. (Arroyo Dep. at 10). Williamson denies using those epithets, but admits that he said Arroyo had "moisture on his back," a reference to Arroyo's ethnicity.*fn2 (Williamson Dep. at 20, 25-26). After the dispute, Arroyo was told to go home by his managers. (See Barton Dep. at 27). Apparently, Williamson followed Arroyo to the elevator, (see id. at 27, 35), at which point Arroyo alleges that Williamson said: "`We will take care of it outside and this is far from over.'" (Arroyo Dep. at 14).

The next day, Arroyo complained to Gerard Barton, the Bank's Managing Director of Human Resources. (See id. at 18; Barton Dep. at 26). According to Barton, Arroyo only mentioned that Williamson called him a "wetback," or something that could be interpreted as such. (See Barton Dep. at 28). Arroyo, on the other hand, maintains that he told Barton that Williamson called him a "spic." (See Arroyo Dep. at 18). Barton conducted an investigation, meeting separately with Williamson and Doyle, who witnessed the argument. (See Barton Dep. at 29, 31-33, 35). He testified that Williamson's and Doyle's versions of the incident were consistent with what he alleges Arroyo told him. (See id. at 39). As a result of the investigation, Williamson was disciplined. Barton verbally warned him that use of racial slurs was impermissible, and documented the warning by placing a memorandum in Williamson's file. (See id. at 44, 46, 48-49; Ex.11). Afterwards, Williamson apologized to Arroyo and other co-workers. (See Arroyo Dep. at 20-21; Williamson Dep. at 36, 61).

No further incidents of discrimination are alleged until September 1994.

September 1994

During this time the Bank made changes in its organizational structure and to its computer system. (See Arroyo Dep. at 22-24; Barton Dep. at 50-52). The changes affected Arroyo's and Williamson's positions. The employees were moved from the trading floor to a back office where they sat close to one another, (see Barton Dep. at 50-52), and were instructed to work directly together. (See Arroyo Dep. at 22). Each was responsible for training the other in their respective positions. (See id.). Tension soon developed.

Arroyo also testified that when Doyle, who is white, was promoted, Williamson remarked: "`Do you believe this fucking guy got a vice president job?'" (See Arroyo Dep. at 27). An employee also reported to Doyle that Williamson said the promotion list was "`shaded white,'" and "`South Africa, here at West LB.'" (Doyle Dep. ...

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