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BECKER v. ULSTER COUNTY
October 9, 2001
GAIL BECKER, PLAINTIFF,
ULSTER COUNTY (NEW YORK); THOMAS A. COSTELLO; WANDA PROWISOR; AND PAT VASELEWSKI, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R. Homer, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Gail Becker ("Becker") brings this action alleging sex
discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; the First, Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985; the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y.
Exec. Law § 296; and New York State Civil Service Law, N.Y. Civ.
Serv. § 75-b. Specifically, Becker alleges that her supervisors
failed to take appropriate steps to protect her after she was assaulted
by a co-worker. See Third Am. Compl. (Docket No. 19) at ¶¶ 21-47.
Becker further alleges that she was terminated in retaliation for
complaints lodged against her supervisors. Id.
Presently pending is defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b). Docket Nos. 27 & 28. Becker opposes the
motion. Docket Nos. 29 & 30. For the reasons which follow, the motion
is denied in its entirety
For purposes of this motion, the facts are viewed in the light most
favorable to Becker as the non-movant. See section II(A) infra.
On October 26, 1998, Becker began work with the Ulster County Golden
Hill Health Care Center ("Golden Hill") as a probationary certified
nurse's assistant. Docket No. 27, Ex. E. On December 22, 1998 at
approximately 9:45 p.m., Becker was sexually assaulted by her co-worker,
Bruce Broadhead ("Broadhead"), in a resident's bathroom. Becker Dep.
(Docket No. 27, Ex. I0) at 39, 46, 51-53. Broadhead pinned Becker
against the wall, groped her breasts and thighs, attempted to force his
hands down her pants, exposed himself and demanded sexual intercourse.
Id. at 54-62.
Following the sexual assault, Becker complained to the charge nurse,
Linda MacDonald. Id. at 65. Becker was not allowed to telephone the
police. Id. at 64-65. Becker completed her shift, id. at 64, and when she
arrived at home, she left a message for Deputy Sheriff Weaver. Id. at
68. On December 23, 1998, Deputy Weaver returned Becker's call and told
her to file an incident report with Golden Hill. Id. at 69. Becker went
to Golden Hill to file and incident report and reported the incident to
defendant Patricia Vaselewski ("Vaselewski"), Deputy Director of Clinical
Services. Id. at 76. That same day, Broadhead was suspended pending an
investigation. Id. at 86. Becker requested time off from work, but
Vaselewski required Becker to report for her scheduled afternoon shift.
Id. at 104.
On December 31, 1998, Vaselewski informed Becker that unless criminal
action was taken against Broadhead, he would not be terminated from his
position. Id. at 75, 86. On January 1, 1999, Becker filed a criminal
complaint with Deputy Weaver. Id. at 71-73. However, formal charges,
however, were not filed for several days. Id. at 76-77.
On January 8, 2000, Becker sent a letter to defendant Thomas Costello
("Costello"), Ulster County Personnel Officer, complaining about her
supervisors' failure to take remedial action and Vaselewski's refusal to
permit Becker time off to seek an order of protection. Docket No. 29,
Ex. E. On January 12, 1999, Becker was ordered reinstated and was asked
to meet with Prowisor to complete needed paperwork. Id. at Ex. G.
During their meeting, Prowisor presented Becker with a written reprimand
for failure to report to work on January 2, 1999. Id. at Ex. F.
Prowisor also directed Becker to report for the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
shift. Id. at Ex. G. Becker attempted to find a baby-sitter for that
night but was unable to do so on such short notice. Becker Dep.at 101.
Becker immediately told Prowisor that she would be unable to work. Id.;
see also Docket No. 29 at Ex. U. Prowisor informed Becker that if she
failed to report to work, she would be terminated. Docket No. 29 at Ex.
V. Becker did not report to work and her employment was terminated on
January 13, 1999. Id. at Ex. G. This action followed.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
"Summary judgment . . . is appropriate only where there is no genuine
issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Hunt v. Cromartie, 119 S.Ct. 1545, 1550 (1999)
(citations omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears
the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Lee v. Sandberg, 136 F.3d 94, 102 (2d Cir. 1997). Once the
movant has come forward with sufficient evidence in support of the motion
for summary judgment, the opposing party must "set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial" and cannot rest on "mere
allegations of denials" of the facts asserted by the movant.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522,
525-26 (2d Cir. 1994).
The trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-movant. Grain Traders, Inc. v. Citibank,
N.A., 160 F.3d 97, 100 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Eastway Constr. Corp. v.
City of New York, 762 F.2d 243, 249 (2d Cir. 1985). "Furthermore, the
non-movant `will have his [or her] allegations taken as true, and will
receive the benefit of the doubt when his [or her] assertions ...
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