The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buchwald, District Judge.
Plaintiff Irsa Greene ("Greene" or "plaintiff") brings this
action against Coach, Inc. ("Coach" or "defendant"), alleging
racial discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the Civil Rights
Act of 1971, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), New York State
Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § 290 et seq.
("NYHRL"), and the New York City Administrative Code § 8-101 et
seq. ("NYCAC"). Presently before the Court is defendant's
motion for summary judgment on liability, or alternatively, to
dismiss certain of plaintiffs damages claims. For the following
reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment is denied as is
defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs claims for punitive
damages. However, defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs
claims for reinstatement, front-pay, and some back-pay is
In brief, the facts are as follows.*fn1 In November of
1997, Greene, who is
African-American, commenced her employment with Coach. She began
as a part-time, seasonal salesperson and became a regular
employee when she was transferred to the Coach store at 342
Madison Avenue ("the Store") in January of 1998. See Greene
Aff. ¶¶ 2-3. In December of 1998 Greene was promoted to the
position of assistant manager. See Levy Aff. Ex. D, Greene
Depo. at 153-56. In June of 1999, Lisa Young ("Young"), who is
Caucasian, became the New York District Manager. In that
position, she had supervisory authority over the Store's
operations. On the recommendation of Store manager Melissa
Betonte-Middleton ("Betonte-Middleton"), Young promoted Greene
to associate manager about one month later.*fn2 See Levy
Aff. Ex. X, Betonte-Middleton Depo. at 81-83.
In late September of 1999, Betonte-Middleton announced her
resignation as Store manager. See id. at 24-25. After gaining
Betonte-Middleton's support for her desire to be considered for
the Store manager position, Greene twice contacted Young to
discuss her candidacy for the position. See Greene Aff. ¶ 9.
Young told Greene she would meet with her to discuss it. See
id. ¶¶ 9-10. However, at her deposition, Young explained that
she had not considered Greene for the position but rather
selected Karen Diaz ("Diaz"), who was then the store manager at
Coach's closing Trump Tower location, to be the new store
manager. Levy Aff. Ex. U, Young Depo. at 126. Further, Young
transferred Raquel Cruz ("Cruz"), a recently hired assistant
manager at the Trump Tower location, to fill the position of
assistant manager at the Store.*fn3
Shortly after the change in management, Diaz took a vacation,
leaving Greene as the ranking manager at the Store. See Greene
Aff. ¶ 11; Levy Aff. Ex. T, Diaz Depo. at 188. In that capacity,
Greene continued her cleaning and reorganizing of the stockroom,
a project that she had commenced several days earlier with
Diaz's knowledge. See Greene Aff. ¶ 11. On October 20, 1999,
Greene stayed in the store after her scheduled shift ended in
order to complete this project. See id. ¶ 12. In addition to
accumulating garbage, Greene determined that broken glass and
wooden shelving that had been stored for weeks against the wall
in the Store's small bathroom needed to be removed. As Greene
describes this shelving, it was "unuseable and posed a safety
hazard to employees and customers using the bathroom." Id. She
asked a neighboring Verizon store manager, Fernando Carrington
("Carrington"), to come to the store and help to remove the
"heavy and unwieldy" shelving. Id. While Carrington and Greene
removed the shelving, sales associates Elisa Moore ("Moore") and
Valencia Joseph ("Joseph"), as well as assistant manager Cruz,
were present and aware of what Carrington and Greene were doing.
After depositing the shelving in Coach's designated garbage
disposal site, Greene closed the store, including following
Coach procedures requiring that all employees have their bags
checked before departing. See Greene Aff. ¶ 13.
Diaz's version of this same phone conversation is somewhat
different. Diaz testified at her deposition that Cruz had told
her that Greene invited a non-employee friend into the store and
then asked all the other Coach employees to leave while the
money from the register was still out, meaning it was neither in
the register nor the safe. See Wilde Aff. Ex. A, Diaz Depo. at
230. Further, according to Diaz, Cruz said that Greene and
Carrington discarded items that were not checked by another
member of management pursuant to store policy. See id. at 235.
After receiving the call from Cruz, Diaz relayed to District
Manager Young what had transpired at the Store. Pursuant to
Young's instructions, Diaz then notified Coach's Loss Prevention
Department of what Cruz had reported to her.
On October 28, 1999, Regional Loss Prevention Investigator
Paul DeMasi ("DeMasi") met with Greene in the stockroom at the
Store. First, according to Greene, DeMasi accused her of being
responsible for a $400 cash discrepancy that had occurred on a
day when Greene was not working at the Store. After more than
three hours of interrogation, DeMasi was unable to connect
Greene to the discrepancy. Greene Aff. ¶ 14; Levy Aff. Ex. S,
Greene Depo. at 335-36. Then, Director of Loss Prevention Daniel
Hafford ("Hafford") came into the stockroom. Hafford and DeMasi
informed Greene that they had investigated her actions in
allowing Carrington into the stockroom on October 20, and had
concluded that she had violated Coach's building access policy.
Greene signed a statement acknowledging that allowing an
unauthorized person into the work area was a violation of
company policy. See Levy Aff. Ex. J.
As explained by Young, after DeMasi concluded his
investigation, he reported his findings to Young, who then
contacted Human Resources representative Noreen McLaughlin
("McLaughlin"). Young told McLaughlin, who had never met Greene
and did not know she that she is African-American, about the
events of October 20 and informed McLaughlin that both she and
DeMasi recommended termination. McLaughlin told Young to "go
ahead and terminate." See Valenza Aff. Ex. B, Young Depo. at
153-54. Later that same day, Young met with Greene and told her
that she was being terminated. See Greene Aff. ¶ 17. Although
Young testified at her deposition that she told Greene that she
was being terminated both for removal of company property as
well as allowing an unauthorized person in the stockroom, Greene
asserts that Young gave her only the latter reason at the time
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is properly granted "`if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no
genuine issue as to material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" R.B. Ventures, Ltd.
v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1997) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate the entry of
summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to
that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden
of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
In reviewing the record, we must assess the evidence in "a
light most favorable to the nonmoving party" and resolve all
ambiguities and "draw all reasonable inferences" in its favor.
American Casualty Co. v. Nordic Leasing, Inc., 42 F.3d 725,
728 (2d Cir. 1994); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Our
inquiry is limited to identifying material issues of fact.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505. We must refrain
from resolving such issues or making credibility ...