now moves, pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 56, to dismiss all claims
alleged in the Complaint.
A. Treatment of Defendant's Motion
Although Defendant's Notice of Motion seeks dismissal of all of
Plaintiff's causes of action, see Notice of Motion, at 1
(Docket No. 17), Defendant's Memorandum of Law only addresses
Plaintiff's sexual harassment (hostile work environment) claim
under Title VII. See Def.Mem. of Law at 1-8. Accordingly, the
Court's decision is limited to Plaintiff's prima facie sexual
harassment claim under Title VII and N.Y.EXEC.LAW 290 et seq.,
which is analyzed under the same legal standards as those
applicable to Title VII claims. See Reed v. A.W. Lawrence & Co.,
Inc., 95 F.3d 1170, 1177 (2d Cir. 1996); Van Zant v. KLM Royal
Dutch Airlines, 80 F.3d 708, 714-15 (2d Cir. 1996); Tomka v.
The Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1305 n. 4 (2d Cir. 1995).
However, the analysis under federal and state law differ on the
question of employer liability. See Sowemimo v. D.A.O.R. Sec.,
Inc., 43 F. Supp.2d 477, 485 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); Ponticelli v.
Zurich Am. Ins. Group, 16 F. Supp.2d 414, 427-28 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)
("Claims under the HRL are similar to sexual harassment claims
under Title VII and can be examined identically for summary
judgment purposes, `at least as far as determining whether sexual
harassment has taken place.'") (quoting Seepersad v. D.A.O.R.
Sec., Inc., 1998 WL 474205, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug.12, 1998))
("Employer liability under the [New York State Human Rights Law]
differs from [Title VII] . . . in that under the NYSHRL, `an
employer cannot be held liable for an employee's discriminatory
act unless the employer became a party to it by encouraging,
condoning, or approving it.'") (quoting State Div. of Human
Rights v. St. Elizabeth's Hosp., 66 N.Y.2d 684, 687,
496 N.Y.S.2d 411, 487 N.E.2d 268 (1985)). The standards set forth by
the Supreme Court in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton,
524 U.S. 775, 118 S.Ct. 2275, 141 L.Ed.2d 662 (1998) and Burlington
Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, 118 S.Ct. 2257, 141
L.Ed.2d 633 (1998) for determining employer liability in sexual
harassment cases "applies only to plaintiff's Title VII claim,
for it is not certain whether New York courts will follow the
Supreme Court in establishing employer liability standards for
sexual harassment under the NYSHRL." Seepersad, 1998 WL 474205,
at *4. Notably, the decisions in Faragher and Burlington
Industries were both decided prior to Plaintiff's initiation of
the instant litigation. Because Defendant's Memorandum of Law
solely addresses Plaintiff's Title VII claim — and the legal
standards under federal and state law vary on the question of
employer liability — the Court will only address the employer
liability issue with respect to Plaintiff's sexual harassment
claim under Title VII. Moreover, because Defendant failed to
present any legal arguments with respect to Plaintiff's
intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, that claim
was also not considered by the Court in connection with
Defendant's instant motion. See Burma-Bibas, Inc. v. Excelled
Leather Coat Corp., 584 F. Supp. 1214, 1218 (S.D.N.Y. 1984).
B. The Standard for Summary Judgment
The standard for summary judgment is well-settled. Under
FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c), if there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact, the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party."
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); see also
Chertkova v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co., 92 F.3d 81, 86 (2d
Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the initial burden of
"informing the . . . court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of `the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986) (quoting FED. R.CIV.P. 56(c)). The initial burden is to
demonstrate "that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party
must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322,
106 S.Ct. 2548; Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 585-86, 106 S.Ct. 1348.
A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine if a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party; that is,
whether the non-movant's case, if proved at trial, would be
sufficient to survive a motion for judgment as a matter of law.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-51, 106
S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). When reasonable minds,
however, could not differ as to the import of the evidence, then
summary judgment is proper. See Bryant v. Maffucci,
923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 849, 112 S.Ct. 152,
116 L.Ed.2d 117 (1991).
Although the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw
all inferences in favor of that party against whom summary
judgment is sought, Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank,
865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir. 1989); Eastway Constr. Corp. v. City of New
York, 762 F.2d 243, 249 (2d Cir. 1985), cert. denied,
484 U.S. 918, 108 S.Ct. 269, 98 L.Ed.2d 226 (1987), the motion will not be
defeated by a non-movant who raises merely a "metaphysical doubt"
concerning the facts or who only offers conjecture or surmise.
Delaware & H.R. Co. v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174,
178 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 928, 111 S.Ct. 2041,
114 L.Ed.2d 125 (1991) (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586,
106 S.Ct. 1348); see also Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil,
Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1990). Indeed, the non-moving
party's opposition may not rest on mere allegations or denials of
the moving party's pleading, but "must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED.R.CIV.P.
Although it is well-settled that "conclusory allegations of
[sexual harassment] are insufficient to satisfy the requirements
of Rule 56(e)," Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 998 (2d Cir.),
cert. denied, 474 U.S. 829, 106 S.Ct. 91, 88 L.Ed.2d 74 (1985)
(citations omitted); see also Schwapp v. Town of Avon,
118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1997), the Court is mindful that hostile work
environment claims may not be suited for resolution on summary
judgment because they often involve "mixed question[s] of law and
fact." Richardson v. New York State Dep't of Correctional
Serv., 180 F.3d 426, 437 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Distasio v.
Perkin Elmer Corp., 157 F.3d 55, 61 (2d Cir. 1998) ("Summary
judgment should be used `sparingly' when, as is often the case in
sexual harassment claims, state of mind or intent are at
issue."). As the Second Circuit recently noted in the context of
a plaintiff's hostile work environment claim:
Such mixed questions are especially well-suited for
jury determination and summary judgment may be
granted only when reasonable minds could not differ
on the issue. Although such questions may be ripe for
summary adjudication where the underlying facts are
undisputed, that the facts are undisputed does not
automatically mandate summary judgment; rather,
summary judgment is appropriate only where
application of the law to those undisputed facts will
reasonably support only one ultimate conclusion.