The opinion of the court was delivered by: Constance Baker Motley, United States District Judge
The fifty individual plaintiffs in this matter, each of whom is either
female or a member of a racial or ethnic minority, are carpenters and
freight handlers currently or formerly employed by the Jacob K. Javits
Convention Center ("Javits Center") in Manhattan. Plaintiffs allege that
the Javits Center is managed by a group of "white Irish males" who have
engaged in widespread race and gender discrimination. In addition to
giving white male employees preferences with respect to the type and
amount of work that is assigned, plaintiffs claim that the Javits
Center's management has created and condones a hostile work environment
rife with racist and misogynist epithets. Plaintiffs also allege that
they have been denied various privileges of employment and singled out
for reprimand because of their race and/or gender, and that they have
been retaliated against for complaining to management.
A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Defendants first argue that the Eleventh Amendment affords them
immunity from this suit. It is well settled that the Eleventh Amendment
bars suits against a state in federal court unless Congress has abrogated
or the state has waived its sovereign immunity. See, e.g., Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99 (1984).*fn1 Here,
however, plaintiffs have not sued the state of New York itself but rather
the NYCCOC, an entity created by the state for the purpose of
constructing and operating the Javits Center. The question therefore is
whether the NYCCOC is more like an "arm of the state," in which case the
Eleventh Amendment applies, or more like "a municipal corporation or
other political subdivision," in which case the Eleventh Amendment does
not apply. See Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle,
429 U.S. 274, 280 (1977).
In Mancuso v. New York State Thruway Authority, 86 F.3d 289 (2d Cir.
1996), the Second Circuit reaffirmed its six-factor inquiry for
determining whether a state-created entity enjoys Eleventh Amendment
immunity under the "arm of the state" doctrine: (1) how the entity is
referred to in the documents that created it; (2) how its governing
members are appointed; (3) how it is funded; (4) whether its function is
traditionally one of local or state government; (5) whether the state has
veto power over its actions; and (6) whether the entity's financial
obligations are binding upon the state. See id. at 293 (citing Feeney v.
Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp., 873 F.2d 628, 630-31 (2d Cir. 1989)). If
these six factors point in different directions, the tension must be
resolved mindful of the Eleventh Amendment's twin rationales —
protecting states' treasuries and protecting their dignity. See id.
(citing Hess v. Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp., 513 U.S. 30 (1994)).
"[T]he vulnerability of the State's purse [is] the most salient factor."
Id. (quoting Hess, 513 U.S. at 48). Applying these factors, the Court
concludes that the NYCCOC is not an "arm of the state" for Eleventh
Nor does any other language in the statute creating the NYCCOC weigh
decidedly toward or against a finding of immunity. On one hand, the
legislature characterized the NYCCOC's mission as an "essential government
function." N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law § 2561, 2568. On the other hand, the
statute also enumerates ways in which the state may "cooperat[e]" and
"assist" the NYCCOC in the performance of its duties, id. §
2565, suggesting that the legislature considered the NYCCOC and the state
to be distinct entities. The Court therefore concludes that the first
Mancuso factor is neutral.
The second factor — how the entity's governing members are
appointed weighs squarely in favor of immunity. The NYCCOC's board of
directors consists of thirteen people, seven of whom are appointed by the
governor and six of whom are appointed by leaders of the legislature. See
id. § 2562(1).
The third factor — how the entity is funded — also weighs
neither for nor against immunity. The NYCCOC funds itself at least in
part by collecting rents and other fees from the convention center's
patrons. See id. § 2563(10). Additionally, the legislature has
established a procedure through which it may appropriate supplemental
funds to the NYCCOC to the extent that doing so is necessary to enable
the NYCCOC to meet its operating expenses. See id. § 2566. Because
there is no evidence in the record establishing the actual extent to
which the NYCCOC is self-funded, the Court concludes that the third
factor is neutral.
The fourth factor — whether the entity's function is
traditionally one of state or local government — weighs against a
finding of immunity. Unlike in Mancuso, which concerned the New York
State Thruway Authority's operation of the state's highways and canals,
it cannot be said that the operation of a convention center is
traditionally a state function. Defendants have offered no evidence that
any other states operate convention centers — much less that such
is the tradition — and the Court suspects that many of the
convention centers in this county are operated by municipal entities.
Tellingly, the legislature's own findings and declarations in the statute
creating the NYCCOC speak as much or more to the needs of New York City
than they do to the needs of the state of New York. See id. § 2561.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that the fourth Mancuso factor weighs
Finally, the sixth factor — whether the entity's obligations are
binding on the state — weighs heavily against immunity. The
statute, after all, expressly provides that "[t]he obligations of the
corporation shall not be debts of the state," that "the state shall not
be liable thereon," and that "such obligations shall not be payable out
of any funds other than those of the corporation." Id. § 2567.
Defendants contend that this provision "is more theoretical than real"
because, under section 2566, "the state has committed to compensate [the]
NYCCOC for the expenses related to meeting its obligations." NYCCOC Mem.
at 7. However, nothing in section 2566 (which provides that the state
"may" appropriate supplemental funds to the NYCCOC) requires the state to
give the NYCCOC any money, a point driven home by the powerful and
unambiguous language in section 2567. The Court therefore concludes that
the sixth factor weighs decidedly against immunity.
Turning then, as Mancuso instructs, to the twin purposes of the
Eleventh Amendment — protecting states' treasuries and protecting
their dignity — it is clear that the NYCCOC should not be deemed an
"arm of the state" for Eleventh Amendment purposes. Given that the state
plainly is not liable for the debts of the NYCCOC, nothing about this
lawsuit renders the state's purse at all vulnerable, even though a
judgment theoretically could make it more difficult for the NYCCOC to
meet its operating expenses. Furthermore, because the state exercises
only limited control over the ...