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TIMOTHY v. OUR LADY OF MERCY MEDICAL CENTER

March 12, 2004.

ANGELLA TIMOTHY, Plaintiff, -against- OUR LADY OF MERCY MEDICAL CENTER and OUR LADY OF MERCY HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC., Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD CASEY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

On March 16, 2003, Angella Timothy ("Plaintiff) commenced this suit against Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") alleging employment discrimination and retaliation, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, New York Executive Law § 296 et seq., and the Administrative Code of the City of New York § 8-107 et seq.*fn1 On October 7, 2003, Plaintiff amended the complaint, adding claims of discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (`Title VII") and allegations of constructive discharge. Defendants now move to partially dismiss the First Amended Complaint, asserting that: (1) all claims against Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc. are subject to dismissal; (2) all of the Title VII claims Page 2 as they relate to events occurring before June 30, 2002 are time-barred; and (3) Plaintiff's retaliation and constructive discharge claims fail as a matter of law. Defendants' motion was deemed folly submitted on November 11, 2003. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

  For purposes of this motion, the complaint's factual allegations are accepted as true and all inferences are drawn in Plaintiff's favor.

  Plaintiff, an African-American mother, was employed by Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc. for approximately ten years. (Dkt. No. 10: First Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) These entities are non-profit corporations that operate a hospital in the Bronx, New York. (Id. ¶ 8.) In July 1993, after receiving her Masters of Public Administration in Health Policy and Management from New York University, Plaintiff began working as an Administrative Resident with Defendants. (Id. ¶ 9.) In this position, Plaintiff reported directly to Gary Horan, the hospital's President and Chief Executive Officer. (Id. ¶ 11.) In 1994, Plaintiff was promoted to the position of Administrative Fellow and continued to report to Horan. (Id.) In July 1996, Plaintiff was again promoted to the position of Associate Administrator, reporting to Horan and the Chief Operating Officer. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff had administrative responsibility for seven departments, attended Board of Trustees' meetings and served on numerous hospital committees. (Id.) In 1999, Plaintiff won the prestigious Young Healthcare Administrator of the Year Award. (Id. ¶ 14.) In November 2000, Plaintiff left the hospital's employ on maternity leave. (Id. ¶ 15-16.)

  In July 2001, Plaintiff returned from leave. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff alleges thereafter she was subjected to a pattern and practice of racial and gender discrimination in which she was repeatedly Page 3 demoted in favor of white women without young children and in favor of white men, some of whom have young children. (Id. ¶ 10, 17, 21-22, 29.) Plaintiff also contends that Defendants stripped her of departmental responsibilities, removed her from her career track in Administration, and relegated her to an inferior nursing administration position. (Id. ¶ 17, 23, 28.) Plaintiff was also assigned to work in inadequate workspaces. (Id. ¶ 25.)

  On March 24, 2003, Defendants received a letter from Plaintiff's attorney raising claims of race and gender discrimination. (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff contends that after Defendants received this letter she was subjected to a number of alleged retaliatory actions, namely — her job responsibilities were limited, she was excluded from meetings, her working conditions were impaired, and Defendants generally made it more difficult for her to perform her job. (Id. ¶ 31.) As specific examples of adverse employment action, Plaintiff alleges that she was reassigned to a cramped office, she was criticized for the actions of a nurse she had previously hired, she was not consulted as to whom would be hired for a position she once occupied, and her computer usage was monitored. (Id. ¶ 31(a)-(e).)

  On March 16, 2003, Plaintiff commenced this suit. On July 14, 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") issued Plaintiff a right to sue letter, allowing her to file Title VII claims within ninety days. (Id. ¶ 4.) On October 7, 2003, with Defendants' motion to dismiss already submitted, Plaintiff amended her complaint to allege such claims.*fn2 Page 4

  II. DISCUSSION

  A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

  A court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of a claim which would warrant relief. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must take as true all the facts stated in the complaint and "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Jackson Nat'l Life Ins, v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 32 F.3d 697, 700 (2d Cir. 1995). As such, "a complaint should not be dismissed simply because a plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits." Baker v. Cuomo, 58 F.3d 814, 818 (2d Cir. 1995).

  B. Claims Against Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc.

  Plaintiff asserts claims of discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge against both Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc. (First Am. Compl. Introductory Paragraph.) Defendants move to dismiss all claims asserted against Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System on the grounds that Plaintiff has failed to assert that it was her employer and that it played a role in the alleged discriminatory and retaliatory acts. Perhaps not artfully pled, the complaint's introductory paragraph refers to both Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System, Inc. as "OLM." Therefore, the factual allegations throughout the complaint refer to both entities.

  Accepting the facts in the complaint as true, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System was her employer and that its acts constituted discrimination, retaliation and constructive discharge. Our Lady of Mercy Healthcare System has therefore received fair notice of these claims. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002V Defendants' ...


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