Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BUCKLEN v. RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

August 23, 2001

VINCENT BUCKLEN, PLAINTIFF,
V.
RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff claims that Defendant unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin (American) and his sex (male) in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000-e et seq., Title IX of the Education Law, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and the New York State Executive Law § 290 et seq. ("Human Rights Law"). See Complaint at ¶ 5.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a former graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ("RPI"), sued RPI in state court for allegedly discriminating against him based on his national origin and gender in conjunction with his taking of the preliminary examination for his doctoral degree. Defendant removed the action from the Supreme Court of the State of New York for the County of Rensselaer to federal district court.

Plaintiff was a graduate student at RPI in the Material Sciences Department from January 1997 to August 1999. See id. at ¶ 12. During that time, Plaintiff worked as a graduate teaching assistant ("TA"). Plaintiff asserts that his evaluations as a TA were uniformly good. See id. at ¶ 23. The problems arose when Plaintiff failed his preliminary examination for the third time in April 1999.

Plaintiff had failed the oral portion of his candidacy examination, for the first time, in February 1998. He took the oral portion of the examination again in October 1998 and again, before the same committee, failed. He was allowed to register for Ph.D. credits for the spring 1999 semester but was told he must take the examination again. He did so on April 1, 1999, and claims that two of the four members of the committee verbally assured him that he had passed the examination. On April 8, 1999, however, Plaintiff asserts that the other two members of the committee told him that he had failed the examination. See id. at ¶¶ 22-31. The reasons purportedly offered were that Plaintiff was nervous and had "failed to answer the most elementary questions." Id. Plaintiff claims that the committee members were "rude and intimidating during the examination." See id. at ¶ 38.*fn1

Subsequent to Plaintiffs failing the oral examination for the third time, Dr. Seigel, the Chairman of the Department, informed Plaintiff that he had no recourse except to drop out of the program.*fn2 See id. at ¶ 44. Plaintiff then scheduled a meeting with the Dean of Students and Dr. Seigel. That meeting took place on April 26, 1999.*fn3 Subsequent to that meeting, on May 11, 1999, Plaintiff claims that the Dean of Students told him that he would not be permitted to take the examination again. See id. at ¶ 59. Plaintiff claims that after this meeting he continued to conduct research and perform his duties as a TA.*fn4 See id. at ¶ 61.

Plaintiff, after working as a TA in the summer and having his research presented at an International Meeting, again asked the Dean of the Engineering School to consider his request for a modified preliminary examination. See id. at ¶ 70. On August 31, 1999, the Dean again refused to consider Plaintiffs request. See id. at ¶ 71. Plaintiff left RPI in August 1999 to take a job in Ohio. See id. at ¶ 73. Since that final denial of Plaintiffs request, there has been no contact between Plaintiff and Defendant. See id. at ¶ 72.

Plaintiff filed a charge with the EEOC and NYSDHR on February 8, 2000. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter on March 8, 2000, finding that Plaintiffs claims were not timely. See Pl.'s Complaint at ¶¶ 7-8. After receiving the right-to-sue letter, Plaintiff commenced the present action.

Plaintiffs claims of discrimination are based on his assertion that he has been prevented from attaining his doctoral degree because of Defendant's refusal to provide him a fair and equitable preliminary examination based on his national origin and sex. See id. at ¶¶ 79-80. Plaintiff alleges that although other students were given opportunities to retake the examination he was not. Specifically, he alleges that a female student was allowed to take the oral portion in a written format since she was too nervous to perform well on the oral portion. See id. at ¶ 48. He also alleges that a foreign student was allowed to take the examination a third time before a different committee. See id. at ¶ 49. Furthermore, he alleges that another foreign student was allowed to teach a course in lieu of repeating the examination. See id. at ¶ 50. Finally, Plaintiff argues that Defendant's refusal to provide him with a fair examination cost him his job at RPI and impaired his future career possibilities. See id. at ¶ 83.

Plaintiff seeks an injunction ordering Defendant to cease its discriminatory treatment of Plaintiff. He specifically seeks reinstatement as a Ph.D. candidate and requests the fair administration of the preliminary examination. Plaintiff also seeks compensatory damages for pain, suffering, humiliation, and loss of professional reputation, punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Presently before the Court are Defendant's motion, pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the action and Plaintiffs motion to amend his complaint to include claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,*fn5 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., and state contract law. The Court heard oral argument in support of, and in opposition to, these motions on December 8, 2000. At that time, the Court denied Plaintiffs motion to amend his complaint to allege causes of action under Title VI and state contract law and granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint with respect to his Title IX claim.*fn6 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.