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RODRIGUEZ v. CONNECTION TECH. INC.

September 9, 1999

MARIA Z. RODRIGUEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONNECTION TECHNOLOGY INC., AND JOHN CARDONA, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This decision examines an unresolved issue in this Circuit. Indeed, the resolution of the motion presently before the Court involves an issue in which there exists a split in Circuit authority; a divergence in opinion within the Southern, Northern and Western Districts of New York; and one that has apparently not been addressed by the Eastern District. Namely, whether the early issuance by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC" or the "Commissioner") of a "right-to-sue letter," pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1601.28(a)(2) is permissible in view of the 180-day waiting period established by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1).

The plaintiff Maria Z. Rodriguez, (the "plaintiff" or "Rodriguez"), commenced this action against her employer, Connection Technology, Inc., ("Connection Technology" or the "defendant") and her direct supervisor at Connection Technology, John Cardona ("Cardona") (collectively, the "defendants"), alleging sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of her gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 et seq. ("Title VII"), and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y.Exec.Law § 290, et seq. (the "NYHRL").

Presently before the Court is the motion by the defendant Connection Technology, with which the defendant pro se Cardona joins, seeking dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R.Civ.P.").

The defendants assert that: (1) the complaint should be dismissed due to the undisputed fact that the EEOC issued the plaintiff a right-to-sue letter prior to the expiration of the 180-day period set-forth in Title VII; (2) Cardona cannot be personally liable under Title VII; and (3) if the federal claims are dismissed, the Court should refuse to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law cause of action.

I. BACKGROUND

Unless otherwise stated, the following facts are from the plaintiff's complaint, filed on December 10, 1998. Connection Technology is a company engaged in the electronics manufacturing business. Cardona is a supervisor at Connection Technology. From March 26, 1995 to September 18, 1998, the plaintiff was employed by Connection Technology as a photo printer.

The plaintiff alleges that immediately after she began working at Connection Technology, her supervisor, John Cardona, began to sexually harass her. The plaintiff claims that despite her repeated refusals, Cardona continued to demand that she go out with him. In addition, the plaintiff alleges that Cardona made sexual comments directed at her, and, on several occasions, grabbed and caressed her in a sexual manner. While the plaintiff contends that she told Cardona on numerous occasions that his conduct was unwelcome, Cardona's conduct did not change.

On August 13, 1998, the plaintiff alleges that she complained about Cardona's behavior to "Mr. Hiss," Connection Technology's Vice-President. The plaintiff claims that although Mr. Hiss told her that he would look into her complaints and would take care of the situation, no action was taken by Connection Technology to stop the harassment.

On September 18, 1998 Connection Technology terminated the plaintiff's employment. The plaintiff was informed that she was terminated due to "Slow Business, [and to] cut down costs." The plaintiff argues that this explanation was a pretext and highlights the fact that Connection Technology did not terminate any other employees during this time; that other employees were working overtime; and that new employees were hired during the same period. The plaintiff concludes that she was discriminated against by Connection Technology in retaliation for her complaint about Cardona's sexual harassment.

On October 14, 1998, the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against Connection Technology and Cardona. On November 23, 1998, the EEOC District Director, Spencer H. Lewis, determined that "Less than 180 days have passed since the filing of this charge, but I have determined that it is unlikely that the EEOC will be able to complete its administrative processing within 180 days from the filing of the charge." As a result, the EEOC terminated the processing of the plaintiff's charge, and upon the plaintiff's request, issued a Notice of Right To Sue. On November 30, 1998, the plaintiff received notice of her Right To Sue the defendant in federal court.

II. DISCUSSION

The Court notes at the outset that the plaintiff has consented to the withdrawal of her Title VII claim against Cardona. As such, the only issue for the Court's resolution centers on whether the Court presently has jurisdiction over the plaintiff's claims ...


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