The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Angela Robinson, brings this action against her
former employer, Instructional Systems, Inc. ("ISI"), alleging
discrimination on the basis of race and/or national origin, in
the terms of her employment and termination, in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the New York State Human Rights
Law, Executive Law § 296, and the Administrative Code of the City
of New York § 8-107(a). Plaintiff claims that ISI discriminated
against her by reassigning her and by failing to offer her a
raise. Plaintiff further claims that ISI retaliated against her
for having filed a complaint of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and that as a result
of her retaliatory termination, she was denied two weeks
severance pay, two additional weeks of work, future per diem
work, and the possibility of being rehired.
In a prior decision in this case, summary judgment was granted
in favor of the defendant on all causes of action except the
retaliation claims. Thereafter, the retaliation claims were heard
before a jury. On January 7, 2000, the jury found that defendant
had discriminated against plaintiff in retaliation for her having
filed a complaint with the EEOC, in violation of Title VII and
related State and Municipal laws. For the reasons discussed
below, the court now enters a judgment, granting plaintiff
prejudgment interest on the jury award, denying plaintiff's
request for punitive damages, and granting plaintiff attorneys'
The basic facts of the underlying dispute in this matter are
discussed in detail in prior opinions on this matter, Judge
Wood's March 19, 1999 decision partially granting defendant's
motion for summary judgment and Magistrate Judge Eaton's February
9, 1999 Report and Recommendation on summary judgment. The court
therefore assumes familiarity with the prior decisions and their
descriptions of the facts of this case.
Briefly, plaintiff Angela Robinson, an African-American female,
is a former employee of defendant ISI, a New Jersey corporation
that marketed educational software to the Human Resources
Administration of the City of New York ("HRA"). Joint Pre-Trial
Order at 3-4. While Ms. Robinson was employed with ISI, the
founder and president of ISI was Phyllis Kaminer.*fn1 In April
1993, Robinson was hired by ISI as an educational training
consultant to provide computer training services to HRA
personnel. Joint Pre-Trial Order at 4. HRA declined to renew its
contract with ISI and ceased payments to ISI in June 1994. Def.
Rule 56.1 Stm't ¶¶ 35-40. In a failed attempt to induce HRA to
renew its contract, ISI continued to send staff, including Ms.
Robinson, to HRA for five months. Def. Rule 56.1 Stm't ¶¶ 37-39.
In late 1994, ISI began
laying off employees involved in HRA projects. During this
period, Robinson was injured in a car accident unrelated to her
employment. As a result of injuries incurred in the accident,
Robinson was out of work on disability leave between August 26,
1994 and December 1, 1994. Joint Pre-Trial Order at 4. Upon her
return to work, Robinson was primarily assigned to the Help Desk
at ISI's headquarters in Hackensack, New Jersey.
On February 23, 1995, Ms. Robinson filed a discrimination
complaint with the EEOC in Newark, New Jersey, claiming that ISI
had discriminated against her in the terms of her employment
because of her race. On the morning of March 1, 1995, Ms. Kaminer
met with Ms. Robinson, informing her that no further work was
available for Ms. Robinson at ISI. Joint Pre-Trial Order at 5.
Later that day, Ms. Kaminer received notice of Ms. Robinson's
EEOC complaint. See id. Thereafter, Ms. Kaminer released Ms.
Robinson without providing her with severance or termination
benefits. Ms. Robinson was not subsequently rehired by ISI. In
October 1996, Ms. Robinson obtained employment as a teacher for
the City of New York.
Ms. Robinson's claims in this suit originally alleged
discrimination in her employment as well as her termination.
Compl. ¶¶ 29-46. However, in a decision dated March 19, 1999,
Judge Wood granted summary judgment in favor of defendants as to
all claims except Ms. Robinson's retaliatory termination claims.
This case was then transferred to this court from Judge Wood on
August 29, 1999.
A jury trial was held on the retaliatory termination claim from
January 4, 2000 until January 7, 2000. After the four day trial,
a jury found that defendant ISI had deprived Ms. Robinson of
termination benefits in retaliation for plaintiff having filed a
complaint with the EEOC. The jury found that Ms. Robinson was
entitled to $1,500 for the loss of severance pay, $1,500 for the
denial of two additional weeks of work, $14,000 for being
deprived of the opportunity to be rehired, and $6,000 in
compensatory damages for mental anguish. In all, the jury awarded
Ms. Robinson $23,000 in damages. Once the jury entered a verdict
finding defendant liable to the plaintiff for discrimination, the
plaintiff requested that the jury be presented with a punitive
damages charge and interrogatory. The court denied plaintiff's
In accordance with the discussion below, the court finds that
plaintiff is entitled to prejudgment interest on the back pay and
compensatory damage awards, that plaintiff is not eligible for an
award of punitive damages, and that plaintiff is entitled to
attorneys' fees with respect to the retaliatory termination
I. PLAINTIFF IS ENTITLED TO ...