The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barrington D. Parker, Jr., District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Michael Kodengada ("Kodengada"), who is Indian and a
member of the Hindu religion, brings this action against his
former employer, defendant International Business Machines
Corporation ("IBM"), alleging discrimination based on national
origin, race and religion and retaliation in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, et
seq., and New York State Executive Law § 290, et seq. Before this
Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b). For the reasons stated below, defendant's
motion is granted.
Summary judgment may not be granted unless "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).
On a motion for summary
judgment, "[a]s a general rule, all ambiguities and inferences to
be drawn from the underlying facts should be resolved in favor of
the party opposing the motion, and all doubts as to the existence
of a genuine issue for trial should be resolved against the
moving party." Brady v. Town of Colchester, 863 F.2d 205, 210
(2d Cir. 1988) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
330 n. 2, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2556 n. 2, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). The
following facts are construed accordingly.
On March 18, 1996, IBM hired plaintiff Michael Kodengada as an
Information Technology ("IT") architect. Kodengada was assigned
to a project team, led by Frank DeRobertis, who served as team
manager from the time Kodengada was hired until December of 1996.
While Kodengada had an office at the IBM facility in
Poughkeepsie, New York, he also worked at various other IBM sites
and facilities. It was at one of these other sites that Kodengada
alleges he was subjected to race-based hostile environment
From June 1996 through November 1996, Kodengada claims that
when he visited the "war room," an open workspace in the Somers,
New York facility, he was subjected to repeated harassment, in
the form of racist remarks directed at him by a co-worker named
George Baschiera. Kodengada went to the war room about two times
a week for a few hours at a time. While there, Kodengada claims
he was exposed to the following incidents:
• Baschiera told him that he did not believe in
• Baschiera told him that he did not believe that
Hare Krishna was a real religion.
• Baschiera said that he kept a gun in his boot "when
he goes to Manhattan in case any colored guy
approach him, shoot him, just like Mr. Bernard
Goetz did, he supported him." [sic]
• Baschiera expressed an opinion supporting Bob
Grant, WABC's conservative radio talk show host,
when Grant was fired for making allegedly racist
• Baschiera used profanity to refer to the chief
architect who was late for a meeting.
• In the course of a telephone conversation, an
African-American co-worker, Ron Wood, said that he
had gotten a tan while at a training class in
Texas. Baschiera replied, "Were you a white boy
before going to Houston, Texas, and now turn out to
be a black boy?"
Kodengada claims he complained to DeRobertis in August of 1996
about Baschiera's offensive behavior and his disdainful comments
about immigrants. DeRobertis denies that Kodengada complained to
him about any such remarks before November of 1996. Kodengada
also claims that he complained about Baschiera's alleged
derogatory remarks to the Human Resources ("HR") Department.
In November 1996, Kodengada became angry at Baschiera because
he believed Baschiera had wrongfully interfered with one of
Kodengada's projects. On Sunday November 3, 1996, Kodengada sent
an e-mail to Baschiera entitled "Intelligent Methods Are Best,"
accusing Baschiera of (1) talking to one of Kodengada's customers
without permission, (2) having a "police officer character," (3)
making racist comments towards an African-American co-worker, and
(4) speaking badly about their manager. Kodengada forwarded this
e-mail to DeRobertis. Upon receiving the e-mail, Baschiera
complained to DeRobertis and demanded that Kodengada apologize.
DeRobertis claims he previously had experienced problems with
Kodengada, including complaints about the quality of his work, a
complaint about a sexually explicit story that plaintiff wrote
and left on a printer which an IBM secretary discovered, and
complaints from female employees that Kodengada had offended or
intimidated them. Kodengada admits to printing a personal story
using an IBM printer. DeRobertis learned, through his own
that three women, Jill Alibrandi, JoAnne Martin, and Kathy
Celona, had experiences with Kodengada that they found
intimidating and/or offensive. Kodengada subsequently confronted
one of the women who had complained about his behavior, leading
DeRobertis to admonish him.
In November, DeRobertis began consulting with Human Resources
to determine how to address the conflict between Kodengada and
Baschiera. In an effort to address the problem, DeRobertis held a
meeting in his office on November 6, 1996, attended by Kodengada
and Baschiera. During the meeting, there was a heated exchange
between the two men. The defendant claims that Baschiera was
upset with plaintiff and told him he could be subjected to
charges of harassment for his conduct towards several women.
Kodengada claims that Baschiera shouted at him "Mike, I will sink
you at IBM! I will bring sexual harassment charges against you! I
will destroy you!" Baschiera again demanded an apology for the
November 3rd e-mail.
That same day following the meeting, the men continued to
communicate through e-mail. Baschiera received an e-mail
containing an apology for the comment made at the meeting, which
apparently was sent from Kodengada's computer. Kodengada claims
he did not write the e-mail, but rather that DeRobertis composed
and sent it from Kodengada's terminal. In another e-mail,
DeRobertis scolded Kodengada about the ...