The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein, District Judge.
Plaintiff Iris Velasquez brings this action alleging that her
employers violated her rights pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., as well as
42 U.S.C. § 1983, and New York State and New York City human rights
laws.*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that defendants fired her because
she is Hispanic and because she complained about a putative
language policy. Defendants now move for summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion is granted and the complaint is dismissed.
I. Background and Relevant Facts
In January 1997, plaintiff began her employment with the New
York City Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC") as a patient
representative at Goldwater Memorial Hospital, an HHC
facility.*fn2 As a patient representative, Velasquez was
primarily responsible for interpreting hospital
policies to patients and responding to patient concerns.
The job opening for patient representative specified that
"Bi-Lingual Spanish" ability was preferred. Plaintiff interviewed
first with Monserrate Nieves-Martinez, Director of the Patient
Relations Department, who is also Hispanic, and subsequently with
named defendant Elizabeth Lockhart, Risk Manager of Goldwater.
During her interviews with Martinez and Lockhart, Velasquez was
informed that they were seeking a Spanish-speaking patient
representative to serve the hospital's large Hispanic patient
population. Both Lockhart and Martinez recommended Velasquez for
the position, and she was hired for a probationary period of
three months. Velasquez's direct supervisor was Martinez, who in
turn reported to Lockhart.
During the course of plaintiff's employment as a patient
representative, several memoranda, authored by either Martinez or
Lockhart, were placed in plaintiff's file detailing problems with
her performance. The memoranda included descriptions of conflicts
between plaintiff and other members of the department regarding
plaintiff's lunch-break and vacation schedule. See Exhs. H, J,
K, L to Galani Affidavit. One memorandum described problems that
Velasquez had encountered with her fellow employees while taking
a mandatory tuberculosis test, in which she was described as
being "rude" and was reprimanded for reading her own medical
chart in violation of hospital policy. See Exh. M to Galani
Plaintiff had several interchanges with her supervisors and
co-workers during her probationary period regarding the use of
Spanish in the workplace. On March 17, 1997, while plaintiff and
Martinez were speaking to one another in Spanish, Rose McKee, the
office manager, approached them and told them not to speak
Spanish. See Velasquez Dep. at 116; Martinez Dep. at 54; McKee
Dep. at 32. The following day at a meeting, plaintiff asked
Lockhart whether there was a policy prohibiting the staff from
speaking in a language besides English. See Velasquez Dep. at
119. According to plaintiff, Lockhart's response was "There is no
such a policy, but you are not allowed to speak in Spanish here."
See Velasquez Dep. at 119. Lockhart testified that she said
that "English was the custom when conducting business, however if
she [plaintiff] felt the need to speak Spanish, speak Spanish."
See Lockhart Dep. at 181. Plaintiff also alleges that Martinez
told her several times that the members of the department "don't
like it when we speak Spanish." See Velasquez Dep. at 112-14.
One week after Lockhart allegedly informed plaintiff that she
was not permitted to speak Spanish, but still during the three
month probationary period, plaintiff was terminated.
Several months later, after receiving a no action letter from
the EEOC, plaintiff filed this action alleging that she was
terminated on the basis of her national origin and retaliated
against for complaining about Goldwater's alleged language
Summary judgment is granted only if "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 a judgment as a matter of law." See Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). On a motion for summary judgment the moving party has the
burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact and the court must construe the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court's task is limited to "discerning
whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be
tried, not to deciding them." Kerzer v. Kingly Manufacturing,
156 F.3d 396, 400 (2d Cir. 1998).
A. Employment Discrimination Claims
In a Title VII case, the Court applies the three-step burden
shifting analysis of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green,
411 U.S. 792, 802-04, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824-25, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).*fn3
First, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of national
origin discrimination. In order to establish a prima facie case,
a plaintiff must show (1) that she belongs to a protected class;
(2) that she was performing her duties satisfactorily; and (3)
that her discharge occurred in circumstances giving rise to an
inference of discrimination on the basis of her membership in
that class. See St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502,
506, 113 S.Ct. 2742, 125 L.Ed.2d 407 (1993); McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668
If a plaintiff succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, a
presumption of discrimination is raised and the burden of
production shifts to the defendants to "articulate a legitimate,
clear, specific and non-discriminatory reason for discharging the
employee." Quaratino v. Tiffany, 71 F.3d 58, 64 (2d Cir. 1995).
If the defendants satisfy their burden, the burden of persuasion
falls upon the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendants'
proffered reasons are merely a pretext for discrimination.
Hicks, 509 U.S. at 515, 113 S.Ct. at 2752; see also
Quaratino, 71 F.3d at 64. In order to demonstrate such a
pretext, a plaintiff must establish through direct, statistical,
or circumstantial evidence that a genuine issue of material fact
exists as to whether the ...