The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDERICK SCULLIN, Chief Judge, District Page 2
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
On June 25, 2001, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants
alleging that, while she was employed by Defendant Cayuga County, she was
subjected to discrimination because of her sex, in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York Human Rights Law.*fn1
Specifically, Plaintiff claims that she was subject to a sexually hostile
work environment and unlawful retaliation when she complained of such.
Plaintiff also brings a claim against Cayuga County alleging that she is
entitled to damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as a result of
Defendants' violation of the above-stated statutes.
From September 22, 1986 through August 31, 2001, Plaintiff was a
Support Investigator for the Cayuga County Department of Health and Human
Services (hereinafter "the Department"). Plaintiff contends that from
approximately 1995 to July, 2000 she was subjected to a sexually hostile
work environment. She alleges that other employees subjected her to
"unwanted touching, degrading remarks . . . of a sexual nature, as
well as other lewd behavior and physically violent conduct." See
plaintiff's Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 61-65. In June and July, 2000,
Plaintiff filed formal complaints with her supervisor, Cheri Jupin, and
with Defendant Cayuga County's sexual harassment officer, Andrea Seamans,
On July 26, 2000, Defendant Elane Daly, the Department Director,
brought twenty-nine disciplinary charges, largely related to incompetency
and misconduct, against Plaintiff. Pursuant to § 75 of the New York
Civil Service Law, a hearing was conducted and the hearing officer
found Plaintiff guilty of fourteen of the charges and recommended
that Plaintiff be suspended.*fn2 On August 31, 2001, based on the
findings of the § 75 Hearing Officer and her finding that Plaintiff
was guilty of one additional charge of making a false statement,
Defendant Daly terminated plaintiff's employment. Plaintiff alleges that
the disciplinary charges and subsequent termination were in retaliation
for her complaints of sexual harassment. Plaintiff filed a complaint with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State
Division of Human Rights on August 4, 2000, and received a right-to-sue
letter on March 29, 2001. Presently before the Court is Defendants'
motion for summary judgment as to all claims.
A. Summary Judgment Standard
A court should grant a motion for summary judgment only if "there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and when, based upon facts not in
dispute, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991) (citing Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). In making this determination, the court must resolve
all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See id. (citing United States v.
Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)
curiam)). Although discrimination cases often involve a fact-intensive
inquiry that precludes summary judgment, a court may award summary
judgment where a fact finder could not infer a discriminatory motive. See
McLee v. Chrysler Corp., 109 F.3d 130, 135 (2d Cir. 1997); see also
Abdu-Brisson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 239 F.3d 456, 466 (2d Cir. 2001).
With these standards in mind, the Court will address each of
B. Title VII and New York Human Rights Law Hostile Work Environment
Claims Against Defendants*fn3
1. Defendant County: Title VII liability
To establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment sexual
harassment under either Title VII or New York Human Rights Law based upon
the conduct of her co-workers, a plaintiff must demonstrate "(1)
harassment that was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the
conditions of her employment, creating an abusive working environment,
and (2) a sufficient basis for imputing the conduct that created the
hostile environment to her employer." Ferris v. Delta
Air lines, Inc., 277 F.3d 128, 136 (2d Cir. 2001) (citing Perry v. Ethan
Allen, Inc., 115 F.3d 143, 149 (2d Cir. 1997)).
As stated, the plaintiff must first establish that the evidence will
show that the conduct complained of is ""`sufficiently severe or
pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive
working environment.'"" Rivera v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., Nos.
95-CV-0829, 95-CV-0830, 1996 WL 637555, *8 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 21, 1996)
(quoting Kotcher v. Rosa and Sullivan Appliance Center, Inc., 957 F.2d 59,
63 (2d Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted)). To do so, a plaintiff must
demonstrate harassment that consists of "`more than isolated incidents or
casual comments that express harassment or hostility.'" Id. (quoting
Babcock v. Frank, 783 F. Supp. 800, 808 (S.D.N.Y. 1992)). "`[T]he
incidents must be repeated and ...