The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge.
Defendant the Port Authority of New and New Jersey (the "Port
Authority") has moved, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, for an order of summary judgment dismissing the complaint of
plaintiff Natalie Minott ("Minott") alleging gender, race, and
disability-based employment discrimination, and retaliation for her
opposition to these discriminatory employment practices, in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., ("Title VII") and the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12112-12117 (the "ADA").
For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.
Minott was a probationary police officer employed in the Port
Authority's Public Safety Department from November 1, 1993 until her
termination on April 28, 1995.
The Port Authority is a bi-state agency created by compact in 1921
between the States of New York and New Jersey with the consent of the
Congress of the United States.
Minott filed this action on August 18, 1997. Minott had previously
filed a charge alleging gender and race discrimination and retaliation by
the Port Authority with the New York Office of the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on May 1, 1995, and an identical charge
with the Newark, New Jersey Area Office of the EEOC on January 22, 1996.
The EEOC issued a "Right To Sue" letter on May 23, 1997, in which the
agency notified Minott that it was terminating its processing of her
charge and that she had 90 days within which to sue in the United States
The parties engaged in discovery, exchanging documents and deposing
witnesses. The instant motion was filed on June 13, 2000, and oral
argument was heard on June 21, 2000, at which time the matter was deemed
Minott was a probationary police officer employed in the Port
Authority's Public Safety Department from November 1, 1993 until she was
terminated on April 28, 1995. Minott was assigned to the Port Authority
Police Academy (the "Police Academy") from November 1, 1993 to April 29,
1994. Minott successfully completed the prescribed training at the Police
Academy and, following her graduation on April 29, 1994, was assigned as
a probationary police officer to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (the
In February 1994, Minott was informed by her physician that she was
pregnant. At that time she was still at the Police Academy. She did not
inform anyone at the Port Authority about her pregnancy until she
completed the Police Academy. She informed her commanding officer at the
Bus Terminal, Captain Anthony Infante ("Infante"), about her pregnancy
immediately upon completing her first tour of duty there on or about May
Prior to completing her probationary period, that is, from the period
November 1, 1993 through April 18, 1995, Minott was absent due to illness
on seven occasions for a total of 30 work days. She was absent on five or
more occasions within a twelve month period, whether calculated as
spanning from November 1993 to November 1994, or from March 1994 to March
1995. One of these absences, from May 10, 1994 to May 24, 1994, was due
to a miscarriage. This absence was noted in the Port Authority's records
as pregnancy-related. Four other officers, all of whom were either male
or female but not pregnant, from Minott's recruit class had a higher
total number of days absent due to illness prior to completing their
probation period, namely: Officer Ashton ("Ashton") (31 work days);
Officer Dubiel ("Dubiel") (66 work days); Officer Fasano ("Fasano") (75
work days); and Officer Way ("Way") (65 work days).
While assigned to the Police Academy, Minott received a written
counseling memorandum dated April 4, 1994 concerning her absence record.
Minott was counseled after her assignment to the Bus Terminal by a
memorandum dated June 15, 1994, regarding three absences, including the
two which occurred while she was at the Police Academy; by a memorandum
dated August 19, 1994, regarding an additional absence; and by a
memorandum dated November 28, 1994 regarding an additional absence. In
November 1994, Minott's scheduled in-grade salary increase was deferred.
According to a memorandum dated November 2, 1994 and issued by William
Hall ("Hall"), Deputy Inspector and Commanding Officer for the Bus
Terminal, the reasons for this salary increase deferral were that she had
been counseled on June 24, 1994 for three sick occasions and on August
23, 1994 for four sick occasions,*fn1 and that there was a pending
memorandum of complaint against her for being absent without leave on
On January 5, 1995, Minott was served with charges for "Stage I"
discipline for "Repeated and Excessive Absence" under the Memorandum of
Agreement between the Port Authority and the Port Authority Police
Benevolent Association Inc. (the "Union Contract"). Stage I discipline is
triggered by two or more non-exempt occasions of absence in a consecutive
nine-month period totaling 18 or more days absent. Under the Union
Contract, certain absences due to work-related injuries are exempt.
Minott had two work-related absences which were ultimately classified as
non-exempt. One of these absences, from September 7, 1994 to September 8,
1994 was initially classified as exempt and
then later reclassified. Her absence record brought her within
the provisions of Stage I discipline even if her work-related
absences are disregarded. None of the four officers who had a
higher total number of days absent prior to completing their
probationary period were disciplined or terminated based on their
absences. However, with the exception of Way, the majority of these
officers' absences — both in terms of the number of days absent and
the number of occasions of absence — were classified as exempt
because they resulted from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Way's
absences, which were non-exempt, occurred on: February 11, 1994 to
February 13, 1994 (1 work day), December 25, 1994 to December 29, 1994 (3
work days), and January 6, 1995 to April 8, 1995 (61 work days).
During her employment Minott consistently received performance
evaluations of "meets standard" or better in every rated category. In an
evaluation dated March 5, 1995, approximately six weeks before her
termination, Minott received an evaluation stating "Officer Minott is a
good police officer. She is dependable and works well with others."
However, Minott also received an evaluation on March 7, 1995, in which it
is stated that "While capable of performing the duties of police
officers, Officer Minott continues to have attendance problems."
During the period in which Minott was attending the Police Academy, one
of the supervisory officers, Detective James Verdino, commented to a
Police Academy class that "[T]hese days they will pull an indian out of
the tee-pee to satisfy quota requirements and anybody is now getting this
job," and commented to Minott that one of the reasons Minott was being
considered for employment with the Port Authority was that she was a
Also during this period, Minott heard other members of her recruit
class comment that women were not suited for police work. Minott
complained informally to several supervising officers. The response of
these officers was essentially that such comments were par for the course
and that police work is a man's job. At one point during Minott's
training at the academy, one of her supervising officers, Lieutenant
Durett, who is a woman, commented to Minott and a group of other women
recruits that women are held to a higher standard than men within the
During her training at the Police Academy, one of the instructors told
Minott that her pants were not dark enough even though they were
purchased at an authorized uniform store. Also during this time, she and
other women cadets were required to remove their shirts in the common
waiting room, which was not blocked to males, to receive a vaccination.
Minott found a copy of a racially offensive joke in her mailbox at the
Bus Terminal on February 15, 1995. The commanding officer distributed a
memorandum to the staff on the following day, calling the memorandum to
their attention and stating that any member of the force involved in such
activity would be subject to disciplinary action.
On September 29, 1995, the EEOC issued a determination that there was
reasonable cause to believe that the Port Authority had discriminated
against female employees with pregnancy-related conditions through its
policies/contract governing the forfeiture of vacation time based on the
use of extended periods of sick leave by those employees.
In a memo dated March 27, 1995, Charles Knox ("Knox"), Director of the
Port Authority Public Safety Department, recommended to the Director of
the Port Authority Human Resources Department that Minott's employment be
terminated based on her ...