The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sprizzo, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff pro se Alexander Taylor ("plaintiff") brings the
above-captioned action against MCI International ("MCI"), Local
111, International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("Local 111"), and
Unum Life Insurance Company of America ("UNUM") (collectively,
"defendants"). Plaintiff alleges that defendants discriminated
against him on the basis of his race, age, and mental disability
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), the New York City Human
Rights Law, 792 NYC 8-31-91, and the Americans with Disabilities
Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102 et seq. Plaintiff further
alleges discriminatory acts in violation of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). Following
plaintiffs submission of a second amended complaint, defendants
made a pre-answer motion to dismiss all claims pursuant to rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendants' motion.
MCI employed plaintiff as a General Operator I from 1968 to
1993. Throughout his employment, plaintiff continually suffered
from psychiatric symptoms and received sporadic treatment at
Gracie Square Hospital. Additionally, plaintiff was diagnosed
with cancer of the tonsillar region in July 1995. The tonsillar
cancer, combined with side effects of radiation therapy,
aggravated Taylor's long-standing psychiatric illness rendering
him "functionally significantly impaired." See Taylor
Opposition to UNUM America's Brief In Support of Motion To
Dismiss dated February 28, 2002, Exh. H. Plaintiff claims that
his disability, coupled with his employer's discriminatory
practices, forced him to retire on or about September 27, 1995.
See Amended Complaint dated March 13, 2002 ("Amended
Complaint") at ¶ 10.
At an unspecified date thereafter, plaintiff applied to UNUM
for disability benefits. See Amended Complaint at ¶ 5.
According to plaintiff, UNUM made disability payments for a
period ranging from seventeen (17) to twenty-four (24) months
between 1993 and 1995. See Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 8, 10-11,
17. In 1995, UNUM cancelled plaintiffs disability benefits.
On January 17, 1995, plaintiff filed charges with both the New
York City Commission on Human Rights and the EEOC against Local
111 and union representative Walter Matthies claiming violations
of Title VII and the ADA based on his alleged disability. See
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint dated July 12, 1996, Taylor v.
Local 111, MCI International, Inc. and UNUM Life Insurance of
America, 96 Civ. 0614 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2000) (JES) ("Taylor
I"). On November 1, 1995, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter
with respect to plaintiffs Title VII and ADA claims against
Local 111. Neither the charge nor the right to sue letter
mentioned MCI or UNUM. The EEOC informed plaintiff that he had
ninety (90) days from the date of receipt to file a private
action in U.S. District Court.
On or about January 4, 1996, plaintiff filed a complaint with
the Pro Se Office of the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York ("Pro Se Office"), alleging that
Local 111 violated Title, VII and ADA. On July 12, 1996,
plaintiff filed an amended complaint with the Pro Se Office
naming MCI as a new defendant. On or about September 5, 1996,
fifty-six (56) days after filing his Taylor I complaint
against MCI, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the
EEOC against MCI. The EEOC complaint alleged discrimination
based on petitioner's disability and in violation of ADA. The
EEOC dismissed plaintiffs charge as untimely.*fn1 See
Affidavit of Amy W. Schulman dated April 28, 1999 ("Schulman
Affidavit"), Exh. N.
On or about October 16, 1998, plaintiff filed an amended
complaint against Local 111, MCI, and UNUM*fn2 alleging
discrimination in violation of Title VII based on his race and
disability. He also alleged violations of the ADA and Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). Plaintiff had
not made race discrimination or ADEA charges in his initial EEOC
claim and was never issued a right to sue letter for these
causes of action. Defendants then filed a motion for summary
judgment in Taylor I.
In a summary order dated June 15, 2000 ("the summary order"),
this Court dismissed all of plaintiffs federal claims against
Local 111. These claims were dismissed for a number of reasons.
First, plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies
with respect to his Title VII race discrimination claim and his
age discrimination claim by not alleging facts to support those
claims before the EEOC. See Schulman Affidavit, Exh. H, EEOC
charge against Local 111; Butts v. City of New York Dep't of
Housing Pres. and Dev., 990 F.2d 1397, 1401 (2d Cir. 1993).
Second, plaintiff presented no evidence to show that Local 111
breached its duty of fair representation and therefore
discriminated against him based on his disability. A union may
not arbitrarily ignore a meritorious grievance or process it in
a perfunctory fashion; however, individual employees do not have
an absolute right to arbitration. Quite simply, when a union,
after a good faith investigation of the merits of the grievance,
concludes that the claim is unsubstantial, and refuses to
encumber further its grievance channels by continuing to process
an nonmeritorious claim, its duty of fair representation is
satisfied and no claim against it may be brought. See Nweke v.
Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 25 F. Supp.2d 203, 220 (S.D.N.Y.
1998). Plaintiff brought forth no evidence to show that Local
111 deviated from this standard. After conducting it's own
investigation, Local 111 determined that plaintiffs claims were
meritless. To counter this claim, plaintiff provided only
conclusory statements that Local 111 acted arbitrarily,
discrimatorily or in bad faith. Moreover, because plaintiff
failed to provide any evidence that Local 111 treated him
differently than similarly situated individuals due to his race,
age, or disability, his Title VII claim was also dismissed.
The summary order also granted summary judgment in favor of
MCI. Plaintiffs claims against his former employer were also
insufficient in a number of ways. First, plaintiffs failure to
file a timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC rendered
all of his claims against MCI time-barred. See Butts, 990 F.2d
at 1401. Moreover, plaintiffs timely filing of an EEOC complaint
against Local 111 was not sufficient to render his claims
against MCI timely, because there was no "identity of interest"
between those two (2) defendants. In other words, the four (4)
factor test used to determine if an "identity of interest"
exists did not warrant a finding of timeliness. Under this test
the court considers: (1) whether the role of the unnamed party
could, through reasonable effort by the complainant, be
ascertained at the time of the filing of the EEOC complaint; (2)
whether, under the circumstances, the interests of a named party
are so similar to the interests of the unnamed party's that for
the purpose of obtaining voluntary conciliation and compliance
it would be necessary to include the unnamed party in the EEOC
proceedings; (3) whether the absence of the unnamed party from
the EEOC proceedings resulted in actual prejudice to that
party's interests; and (4) whether the unnamed party has in some
way represented to the complainant that its relationship with
the complainant is to be through the named party. See Johnson
v. Palma, 931 F.2d 203, 209 (2d Cir. 1991).
Plaintiff, has failed to meet any part of this test. MCI was
neither named as a respondent in the charge plaintiff filed with
the EEOC against Local 111 nor in the right to sue letter the
EEOC issued against Local 111. MCI's identity was not a mystery
to the plaintiff as it was his employer for approximately
twenty-seven (27) years. Plaintiffs history of prior proceedings
demonstrated that he was aware that a preliminary filing with
the EEOC was necessary. It was also clear that the interests of
MCI, as plaintiffs employer, and Local 111, as his union, were
sufficiently dissimilar to preclude the application of the
"identity of interest" doctrine, nor could MCI's interests have
been prejudiced by the fact that they were not a party to the
proceedings. Therefore, the Court dismissed all federal claims
against MCI in Taylor I.
The Court similarly dismissed all of plaintiffs federal claims
in Taylor I against UNUM because: (1) plaintiff failed to file
a timely charge of discrimination with the EEOC, see Butts,
990 F.2d at 1401; (2) plaintiff offered no evidence to support
an equitable tolling of the limitations period; (3) UNUM could
not be sued under the ADA, Title VII, or the N.Y. Human Rights
Law because UNUM was not plaintiffs employer; and (4) the
distinction between benefits for physical and mental
disabilities in UNUM's policy did not violate the ADA, even if
that act was applicable. See EEOC v. Chase Manhattan Bank,
1998 WL 851605 (S.D.N.Y. December 7, 1998).
The Court also dismissed plaintiffs state claims without
prejudice to being renewed in an appropriate state court
Plaintiff subsequently initiated the instant action in state
court on August 8, 2000, alleging violations identical to those
made in his first action; plaintiff added to these claims an
alleged ERISA violation. Defendant properly removed the case to
Federal District Court. On or about June 6, 2001, plaintiff
filed an amended complaint in Federal District Court alleging
violations of ADA, Title VII, and ERISA. See Amended Complaint
at ¶ 1. The instant complaint, like the previous complaint in
Taylor I, asserts that Union representative Mr. Matthies
discriminated against plaintiff because of his disability by
subjecting him to disparaging treatment,
"including but not limited to refusing to represent plaintiff on
his mental illness disability claims against his employer."
See Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 21-24, 34. Plaintiff seeks five ...