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ANDERSON v. STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

July 18, 2000

DR. JANICE W. ANDERSON, PH.D., PLAINTIFF,
V.
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, COLLEGE AT NEW PALTZ, ROBERT L. KING, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHANCELLOR OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, DR. ROGER W. BOWEN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, COLLEGE AT NEW PALTZ, AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM — DECISION & ORDER

Plaintiff Dr. Janice W. Anderson commenced the instant action against Defendants claiming violations of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) ("EPA"). Defendants previously moved pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56 seeking, among other things, dismissal of the EPA claim on the ground that, pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment, Defendants were immune from suit in federal court. On December 8, 1997, the Court rendered a decision from the bench finding, among other things, that the EPA abrogated the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity. On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed. See Anderson v. State Univ. of New York, 169 F.3d 117 (2d Cir. 1999), cert. granted and judgment vacated, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 929, 145 L.Ed.2d 807 (2000). The Supreme Court granted certiorari, and vacated and remanded the Second Circuit's opinion for reconsideration in light of its decision in Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 631, 145 L.Ed.2d 522 (2000). The Second Circuit, in turn, remanded the matter back to this Court for reconsideration in light of Kimel, Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 627, 119 S.Ct. 2199, 144 L.Ed.2d 575 (1999); Kilcullen v. New York State Dep't of Labor, 205 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 2000); and Muller v. Costello, 187 F.3d 298 (2d Cir. 1999). Presently before the Court is Defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Eleventh Amendment precludes the instant EPA claim.

I. Background

The Court will not now restate the underlying facts as they are not relevant to the narrow legal issue currently presented and they were fully set forth in the Second Circuit's opinion, familiarity with which is assumed. See Anderson, 169 F.3d 117.

II. Whether the EPA Abrogated the State's Eleventh Immunity

The sole issue presented is whether the EPA abrogated the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity.

The Eleventh Amendment states:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

U.S. CONST. amend. XI. Although the plain language of the Eleventh Amendment does not speak to federal question jurisdiction, it has been extended to cover all suits against the states regardless of their foundation. See Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 119 S.Ct. 2240, 2253-54, 144 L.Ed.2d 636 (1999); College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 666, 119 S.Ct. 2219, 2232 n. 5, 144 L.Ed.2d 605 (1999); Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261, 117 S.Ct. 2028, 2033, 138 L.Ed.2d 438 (1997); Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1130, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996). Thus, absent any exception to the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity, litigants may not use the federal courts to sue the states. See id.

It is undisputed that the State of New York did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity for actions commenced under the EPA. See Anderson, 169 F.3d at 119. Thus, New York is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity unless: (1) Congress unequivocally expressed its intent to abrogate that immunity; and (2) if it did, Congress acted pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional authority. See Kimel, 120 S.Ct. at 640.

A. Whether Congress Unequivocally Expressed Its Intent to Abrogate the State's Eleventh Amendment Immunity

Defendant concedes that Congress intended to abrogate the States' sovereign immunity from suit when it extended the coverage of the EPA in 1974. See Def. Mem. of Law, at 11. Moreover, the legislative history supports the notion that Congress intended to subject states to suit in federal courts to enforce their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").*fn1 See H.R.Rep. No. 93-913, 93rd Cong., 2d Sess. 41, reprinted in 1974 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2811, 2850 ("The committee also acted . . . to make clear the right of individuals employed by state . . . governments . . . to bring private actions to enforce their rights. . . . This amendment is necessitated by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in [Employees of Dept. of Public Health and Welfare, Missouri v. Dept. of Public Health and Welfare, Missouri, 411 U.S. 279, 93 S.Ct. 1614, 36 L.Ed.2d 251 (1973)] which held that Congress in extending coverage under the 1966 amendments to school and hospital employees in state and local governments did not explicitly provide the individual a right of action in the Federal courts"). Accordingly, the Court finds that Congress intended to abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity for suits alleging violations of the EPA. See Hale v. Mann, 219 F.3d 61, 67 (2d Cir. 2000); see also Anderson, 169 F.3d at 119; Close v. New York, 125 F.3d 31 (2d Cir. 1997); 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).

B. Whether Congress Acted Pursuant to a Valid Grant of Constitutional Authority

The next question is whether, in deciding to subject the states to suit in federal courts, Congress acted pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional authority. Congress may not abrogate a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity under its Article I powers. See Kimel, 120 S.Ct. at 643-44. "Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment [`ยง 5'], however, does grant Congress the authority to abrogate the States' sovereign immunity." Id. at 644. "Accordingly, [Plaintiff] . . . may maintain [her ...


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