The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS GRIESA, Senior District Judge
This is an action by plaintiff Steven A. Ennis against his former
employer alleging discrimination on the basis of age and religion, and
retaliatory termination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and state and city civil rights
laws. There are three defendants: Tyco International Ltd., Sonitrol
Management Corporation, and Mid-Atlantic Security, Inc.
Now before the Court is a motion by Tyco. to dismiss the complaint for
failure to state a cause of action against Tyco. Tyco's position is that
it was not Ennis's employer, and that its personnel had nothing to do
with the alleged wrongdoing. It is conceded for purposes of this motion
that Sonitrol and Mid-Atlantic are closely enough related for both to be
considered employers of Ennis.
For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.
In the course of briefing on this motion to dismiss, the parties
submitted, and had the opportunity to respond to, matters outside the
pleadings. Because these matters were not excluded by the Court, the
motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b). Therefore, the facts are taken from the pleadings and the
affidavits submitted on the motion.
Ennis is a 57-year-old man of the Jewish faith. The complaint states
that Ennis began working for Sonitrol, a provider of security products,
on March 8, 1990, and was terminated from Sonitrol's employment on
January 29, 2002. Although it is not entirely clear, it appears from the
complaint that Ennis was employed at Sonitrol's New York City office,
located in Manhattan.
The complaint states that on September 5, 2001 Sonitrol hired Jim
Wright as General Manager for the Metro New York area, which included the
New York and New Jersey offices. Wright mainly worked out of the New
Jersey office. Wright was reportedly a minister, and was referred to as
The complaint alleges that over the course of the approximately
eighteen months between Wright's arrival and Ennis's termination,
numerous events occurred to create a hosfile work environment. In about
October of 2001 the first of these
events occurred, when Wright allegedly left two voice messages for
Ennis "screaming that he had an attitude problem" after Ennis accidently
hung up on Wright during a cell phone conversation. The complaint alleges
that when Ennis relayed this incident to a co-worker, the co-worker
stated, "Jim hates Jews."
The complaint alleges that, over time, Wright created a "cult-like
working environment" by hiring young "followers from his church," who
were unqualified for their positions at Sonitrol and lived with Wright in
his home in New Jersey. Wright and the young employees allegedly made
various displays of religion in Ennis's presence, including praying and
singing hymns. Wright is also alleged to have made derogatory remarks
about Jewish holidays.
The complaint alleges that Ennis communicated with Sonitrol management
regarding his problems with Wright on November 11, 2001. On this date
Ennis wrote to John Rausch, Director of Sales for Sonitrol, informing him
that a telephone conversation between Ennis and Wright had occurred, in
which Wright had verbally abused Ennis. Ennis stated in the letter that
he found the behavior intolerable and desired some action on the part of
The complaint further alleges that on January 15, 2002 Ennis wrote to
Phil Adams, Director of Human Resources at Sonitrol, stating that Ennis
felt that Wright was discriminating against
him because Ennis was Jewish. The letter also stated that Wright
had hired primarily young workers and had displayed hostility toward
older workers, and that this constituted age discrimination. According to
the complaint, on January 17 Ennis made a follow-up phone call to Rausch
and informed him of the complaint Ennis had sent to Adams. Ennis also
told Rausch in that conversation that Wright "had a problem with" Ennis
because Ennis was Jewish.
Ennis was absent from work between January 21 and January 28, 2002 due
to the death of his mother. The complaint alleges that on January 29
Ennis discovered that his cell phone had been disconnected by Sonitrol.
When Ennis arrived at his office that day, he discovered that Wright, a
co-worker, and a locksmith had entered the office, removed the
documents, and changed the lock on the door. When Ennis was able to enter
his office later that day, he found a letter from Rausch stating,
"Effective immediately, your employment with Sonitrol of Metro New York
is terminated." The letter cited Ennis's ongoing conflict with Wright as
the reason for the termination.
The complaint states that Tyco, Sonitrol, and Mid-Atlantic "are a
single employer, with interrelated corporations, centralized control of
labor relations common management and common ownership." The complaint
also alleges, in each of its five counts, that "each of the defendants
was an `employer'"
within the meaning of the relevant statute. These statements ...