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ROBLES v. COX & COMPANY
July 27, 2001
CARMEN ROBLES, PLAINTIFF,
COX & COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, J.
Plaintiff, a female employee of defendant, filed this Title VII
complaint on February 3, 1999, pleading quid pro quo and hostile work
environment sexual harassment pursuant to 24 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
and New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 290 et seq.*fn1
The case was assigned to court-ordered mediation on September 27, 1999.
However, the mediation was not successful. On April 7, 2000 defendant
filed the instant motion for summary judgment. At a hearing held on
December 7, 2006, this court heard arguments on the motion.
For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for summary judgment
The following facts, unless otherwise noted, are undisputed:
Plaintiff worked for defendant as an assembly-line worker from July 30,
1968 until October 9, 1998, over 30 years. Plaintiff claims that a
supervisor, Herman Rivera, asked her out in February of 1988. They dated
consensually until plaintiff terminated the relationship in 1991 upon
learning that Rivera was dating another woman. By December of 1991, Rivera
had been promoted to a management position and was plaintiffs supervisor.
In December 1992, Rivera, now married, requested that plaintiff resume
their former sexual relationship. Plaintiff objected to Rivera's advances
and Rivera threatened to fire her if she did not comply. Plaintiff claims
that Rivera repeatedly forced plaintiff to have sex on and off company
property and made lewd and embarrassing statements about plaintiff in the
presence of others at the workplace until she terminated the
relationship. Rivera continued to regularly force plaintiff to have sex
with him until about December 1997, when plaintiff informed Rivera that
she would no longer have sex with him. For the purposes of summary
judgment defendant does not dispute plaintiffs allegations of sexual
encounters with Rivera or that they constituted unlawful sexual
On October 2, 1998, defendant's supervisors, including Rivera, broke
into plaintiffs work locker and fired her, purportedly on the basis of
documents they found there. Defendant claims that plaintiff was
ultimately fired because her direct supervisor, Alex Zavaleta, suspected
that plaintiff might have some old product blueprints in her possession.
Zavaleta needed the blueprints and asked plaintiff for them several times
over the course of several days. Defendant claims that plaintiff denied
having the documents. Plaintiff said she could not check her locker
because she had forgotten the combination. Plaintiff states that she
asked Zavaleta to get the locker combination for her because she did dot
remember it. Without alerting plaintiff, Zavaleta asked two supervisors
(but not Rivera) to break open plaintiff's locker. The supervisors did
so. Defendant claims the two supervisors found the blueprints in
plaintiff's locker, did not remove them and informed Zavaleta.
Zavaleta then asked Rivera, who was not present at the original opening
of plaintiff's locker, to remove the blueprints from plaintiff's locker.
According to plaintiff, Rivera then called her into his office and informed
her that they had found the papers in her locker. Frank A. DeBlanco,
defendant's Director of Operations, fired plaintiff later that day,
purportedly on the basis of plaintiff's failure to produce the blueprints as
well as the fact that plaintiff received five disciplinary warnings
throughout the period from 1993-1998 regarding lateness and aggressive
behavior. Plaintiff does not deny that Zavaleta had been requesting the
blueprints. However, plaintiff claims she was never shown the documents and
contests the allegation that any documents justifying termination were in
Defendant does not deny that Rivera and plaintiff were engaged in a
sexual relationship. Rivera admitted the sexual relationship (claiming
it was consensual) during the course of discovery of the instant case.
Defendant fired Rivera on November 24, 1999 and, in a letter dated December
10, 1999, offered plaintiff reinstatement including preservation of her
seniority and backpay. The offer did not require plaintiff to drop her case
against the company. Plaintiff has not accepted this offer but maintains
that she has not rejected it either. Rather, plaintiff maintains that she
is merely considering the offer.
I. Summary Judgment Standard
The standard for summary judgment is that "[u]ncertainty as to the true
state of any material fact defeats the motion." Gibson v. Am. Broad.
Corp., 892 F.2d 1128, 1132 (2d Cir. 1989). The movant must demonstrate
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.*fn2 If the
this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to produce
concrete evidence sufficient to establish a genuine unresolved issue of
material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24
(1986); Dister v. Contimental Group. Inc., 859 F.2d 1 108, 1-114
(2d Cir. 1988). The court then must view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and give that party the benefit of all
reasonable inferences from the evidence that can be drawn in that party's
favor. See Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir.
2000). The court neither weighs evidence nor resolves material factual
issues but only determines whether, after adequate discovery, any such
issues remain unresolved because a reasonable factfinder could decide for
either party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
249 (1986);Gibson, 892, F.2d at 1132. However, neither conclusory
statements, conjecture, nor speculation suffice to defeat summary judgment.
See Kulak v. City of New York, 88 F.3d 63, 71 (2d Cir. 1996).
II. Substantive Title VII Principles
Title VII forbids an I employer from discharging or discriminating
against any individual, with respect to conditions of employment, on the
basis of gender. An individual alleging gender discrimination may proceed
under either or both of two theories: direct (or "quid pro quo")
discrimination and "hostile workplace environment". See Leibovitz v. New
York City Transit Authority, 252 F.3d 179, 188 (2d Cir. 2001). Plaintiff
in this case pleads both quid pro quo and hostile workplace environment
harassment. To establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination
under either theory, "a plaintiff must show, inter alia, that she was
subjected to ...