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PETROSINO v. BELL ATLANTIC

March 20, 2003

LISA PETROSINO, PLAINTIFF, AGAINST BELL ATLANTIC, DEFENDANT.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Linda Petrosino brings this employment discrimination action against defendant Bell Atlantic, alleging that it subjected her to a hostile work environment, failed to promote her, and constructively discharged her because of her sex, in violation of (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"); (2) the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 ("NYHRL"); and (3) New York City Administrative Code ("NYCAC") § 8-107. Petrosino also brings a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts*fn1

Petrosino was hired by Bell Atlantic (which is now known as Verizon) in May of 1990. She worked in the installation and repair ("I&R") department of a Bell Atlantic garage in Staten Island, New York, until 1999. As a field technician, she was responsible for installing and repairing telephone cable for Bell Atlantic's customers. Much of the field work involved climbing telephone poles, stringing cables, and working in tunnels, manholes, and buildings. Like all I&R technicians, Petrosino was assigned to a "gang;" the gang met every morning with its level-one supervisors*fn2 for approximately fifteen minutes, and then the technicians went into the field to perform their assignments.*fn3 For most of her time at the company, Petrosino was the only female I&R technician in her gang.

In July of 1998, Petrosino expressed interest in being an "acting" manager to Joseph D'Angelo, a supervisor. Being an acting manager allowed technicians to take on some of the responsibilities of a manager on a temporary basis. Shortly after her conversation with D'Angelo, Petrosino received a couple of one-day acting management opportunities. In October of 1998, she acted as an administrative foreman for a week. Around this time, Petrosino also expressed her interest in an acting manager position to Mike Russo, another supervisor. Following that conversation, Petrosino acted for Will DeLeon, a field foreman, for one week.

In an effort to find more acting manager opportunities, Petrosino volunteered in January of 1999 to transfer to a new "cable maintenance" gang ("CX&M") that Bell Atlantic was starting in Staten Island. However, in February of 1999, before the transfer could take effect, Petrosino left Bell Atlantic.

Petrosino filed a complaint of sex discrimination against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on April 13, 1999 and she filed this action on July 21 of that same year.

B. Petrosino's Allegations

1. Unwanted Sexual Contact

In December of 1990, at a Christmas party, Charles Degenhardt, a co-worker, approached Petrosino from behind and began groping and kissing her. She pushed him away, yelled for help, and was aided by other company employees.

2. Sexual Graffiti*fn4

Petrosino alleges that over the course of her employment she was frequently subjected to graffiti of a sexual nature that was scrawled inside the terminal boxes located at the top of telephone poles. Many of the drawings depicted company employees engaged in various sex acts. Two of the drawings Petrosino saw specifically referred to her. Sometime in 1993 or 1994, Petrosino opened a terminal box to find a drawing suggesting that she was "blowing the boss." In 1995 or 1996, she discovered another drawing stating: "Lisa is on light duty. Fast food joints are going out of business in the area." In 1996, Petrosino was informed of another drawing that depicted her. Other drawings that Petrosino saw included representations of disembodied female and male genitalia and other company employees, most of them male, in various sex acts with each other and animals.

3. Crude and Offensive Language and Behavior

Petrosino alleges that the technicians in the garage where she worked used foul language and behaved crudely when they gathered for their daily assignments. Specifically, Petrosino claims that co-workers often bantered in vulgar and explicit terms about fictitious sexual exploits with each others' wives. On one occasion, sometime after 1995, Bob Murphy, a technician who was particularly prone to crude language, allegedly told Petrosino, who was working as the supply clerk at the time, that he needed "enough silicone to fill the crack of [his] ass." (Pl. Dep. I at 254-255.)*fn5 Another time, when Petrosino was acting as manager in 1998, one of the technicians made a comment about the size of her "ass." In addition, Petrosino claims that she was subjected to co-workers' constant flatulence.

4. Treatment By Robert Sharib

Petrosino's level-one supervisor from approximately 1990 to 1992 was Robert Sharib. Petrosino complains of Sharib's treatment of her during this period. She alleges that he once got into a company truck that she had left unlocked at a job site, started it, and moved it two blocks away. When Petrosino returned to find the truck missing, she believed it had been stolen, and she was upset. There was testimony by other employees that Sharib had done the same to other technicians in a putative attempt to impress upon them the need to protect company property.

Petrosino alleges that Sharib embarrassed her on several occasions. For example, she claims that he once took a doctor's note, which authorized her to return to work after an injury, and had it enlarged and displayed. On various occasions, he allegedly asked her if she was "on the rag" in front of a room full of men. Petrosino also claims that Sharib called her a "damn woman" and spied on her at work in the field through binoculars.

Petrosino claims that Sharib gave her a geographically inconvenient "light duty" assignment when she was injured. She asserts that when her male co-workers were assigned to work light duty, they were sent to Staten Island, as opposed to Brooklyn, where Petrosino was placed.

Finally, Petrosino alleges that at a company-sponsored seminar in 1992, after she voiced criticism of Sharib's behavior to him, he responded, "Just keep your mouth shut and do what I tell you." (Pl. Dep. I at 206.)

5. Treatment by Frank Mangiero

Frank Mangiero was Petrosino's level-one supervisor in 1996 and 1997. During Petrosino's contact with Mangiero, he frequently used foul language. Specifically, Petrosino claims that he used the words "scumbag" and "cocksucker" often in her presence, though not referring to her. While Petrosino and Mangiero were having a discussion in his office, Mangiero made an inappropriate reference to her breasts. At times, he called her "a damn woman," and told her, "Well, if you can't handle it, maybe women can't handle it," apparently referring to Petrosino's ability to do her job. (Pl. Dep. II at 502.) On one occasion, Petrosino discreetly informed Mangiero that she wasn't feeling well due to menstrual cramps. In response, Mangiero loudly announced her condition in a room full of men and explained that she needed to get a doctor's note.

Petrosino alleges that Mangiero would smack the side of her van, allegedly in an attempt to make her scream.

Petrosino claims that Mangiero once made her do the same assignment three times in an attempt to harass her. On one occasion, he allegedly refused to supply her with a "bucket truck" and an assistant, which she needed to do her assignment. He then allegedly took the assignment away from Petrosino and gave it to a male co-worker who was permitted to use the requested items to complete the job.

6. Treatment by Tom Archdeacon

Tom Archdeacon was Petrosino's third-level supervisor from 1992 through 1999. Petrosino alleges that at some point between 1992 and 1994, Archdeacon said to her: "You don't belong here. You're too thin-skinned. Women are too thin-skinned." (Pl. Dep. I at 279.)

In September of 1992, when Petrosino returned to work after an injury, Archdeacon asked Petrosino why she was not on full duty and suggested in a hostile manner that she must not be taking her medicine.

In 1997, Petrosino was on light duty due to a sprained ankle and was working with a co-worker in an office when Archdeacon asked the co-worker a question to which Petrosino responded. Archdeacon allegedly retorted, "Who is this, your attorney?," and reprimanded Pretrosino for not wearing ...


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