The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garaufis, District Judge.
Plaintiff Maria Duran commenced the above titled action on
October 9, 2001, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq, and
42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff also asserts state law claims of negligence,
slander, and wrongful termination. Defendants Jamaica Hospital
and Joseph DeToma (together "Defendants") move pursuant to FED
R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss Plaintiffs negligence claim
against Jamaica Hospital, Plaintiffs slander claim against
Jamaica Hospital and DeToma, and Plaintiffs wrongful termination
claim against Jamaica Hospital for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. The wrongful termination claim was
converted to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to FED R.
Civ. P. 56, in accordance with this court's consideration of
additional exhibits relevant to the claim. For the reasons set
forth below, Defendants' motion with respect to all three claims
is GRANTED in its entirety.
The following factual allegations are accepted as true for
purposes of this motion to dismiss. See Jaghory v. New York
State Dep't of Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff Duran is an Hispanic woman from the Dominican
Republic who was employed by Jamaica Hospital in the position of
Supportive Care Associate. Duran began her employment with
Jamaica Hospital on or about February 1999. DeToma was at all
relevant times also an employee of Jamaica Hospital. From about
May 1999, until October 1999, DeToma made derogatory and
harassing comments to Plaintiff regarding her proficiency with
the English language. DeToma further harassed Plaintiff by
assigning her duties not within her job description as
Supportive Care Associate. On or about October 5, 1999, DeToma
falsely reported that Plaintiff unlawfully had her hand inside
another employee's pocket book, resulting in the termination of
Plaintiffs employment on or about October 7, 1999. Prior to
Plaintiffs termination, no investigation or hearing had been
conducted by Jamaica Hospital. Plaintiff subsequently filed a
timely claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights
and received a Right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, dated July 17, 2001.
On October 9, 2001, Duran commenced the instant proceeding
against Defendants Jamaica Hospital and DeToma. Defendants now
seek to dismiss Plaintiffs claims for negligence, slander, and
wrongful termination for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to FED R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
In reviewing a motion brought pursuant to FED R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in the
complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those
allegations in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. See
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268, 114 S.Ct. 807, 127
L.Ed.2d 114 (1994); Burnette v. Carothers, 192 F.3d 52, 56 (2d
Cir. 1999). The complaint may be dismissed only if "it appears
beyond doubt, even when the complaint is liberally construed,
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief." Hoover v. Ronwin,
466 U.S. 558, 587, 104 S.Ct. 1989, 80 L.Ed.2d 590 (1984) (citing
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d
80 (1957)). In deciding such a motion, the "issue is not whether
a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is
entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Bernheim v.
Litt, 79 F.3d 318, 321 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal quotations
III. The Moving Defendants' Arguments
Plaintiff claims that Jamaica Hospital was negligent in the
hiring and retention of DeToma. (Complaint ¶ 31.) Defendants
argue that Plaintiffs negligence claim should be dismissed on
the grounds that it is barred by New York Workers' Compensation
Law ("NYWCL"), which provides an exclusive remedy for negligence
actions by an employee against his/her employer.
The exclusivity provision of NYWCL provides that an employer's
negligence liability under the NYWCL "shall be exclusive and in
place of any other liability." See N.Y. Work. Comp. § 11
(McKinney 2002). Sister courts have consistently interpreted
this provision to bar negligence claims brought in federal court
by an employee against an employer. See Walker v. Weight,
961 F. Supp. 32, 35 (E.D.N.Y. 1997) (holding that negligent hiring
and retention claims brought by an employee are barred by
NYWCL); Chrzanowski v. Lichtman, 884 F. Supp. 751, 756
(W.D.N.Y. 1995) (concluding negligence claims are clearly barred
by the exclusivity provision of the NYWCL). Plaintiff has not
brought her negligence claim pursuant to the NYWCL. Therefore,
Plaintiff's negligence claim is barred and must be dismissed.
Plaintiffs brings a claim of slander against DeToma and
Jamaica Hospital, alleging that on or about October 5, 1999,
DeToma falsely reported that Plaintiff unlawfully had her hand
inside another employee's pocket book. (Complaint ¶ 9.)
Plaintiff further alleges that the false report damaged her
reputation and caused her termination. (Complaint ¶ 41.)
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs complaint was filed more than
two years after DeToma told the alleged lies and is thus
timebarred by the one-year statute of limitations for slander
actions.*fn1 In response, Plaintiff argues that the claims
brought before the New York State ...