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February 9, 2004.

ALICE JORDAN, Plaintifffs

The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDERICK SCULLIN, Chief Judge, District Page 2



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, alleging harassment.

  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 Page 3 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) (per Page 4 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 Plaintiff's claims.

 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 Page 5 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 ...

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