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DAHBANY-MIRAGLIA v. QUEENSBORO COMMUNITY COLLEGE

May 25, 2004.

DR. DINA DAHBANY-MIRAGLIA, Plaintiff, -against- QUEENSBORO COMMUNITY COLLEGE, DR. LEROY PAVES, and DR. ROBERT SIMONS, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

The instant action arises out of Dr. Dina Dahbany-Miraglia's employment with Queensboro Community College ("QCC"). Plaintiff claims that QCC and the individual defendants, Dr. Leroy Paves and Dr. Robert Simons, discriminated against her because of her gender, race (African American), and age (65 at the time of the complaint). Plaintiff asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"); the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"); the New York State Human Rights Law ("SHRL");and the New York City Human Rights Law ("CHRL"). Plaintiff also claims she was the victim of unlawful retaliation. Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint on various grounds including: (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) expiration of the statute of limitations; (3) failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and (4) failure to satisfy certain conditions precedent. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part. I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an African-American woman in her mid sixties who is currently employed as a full-time, tenured professor at QCC.

  A. The Alleged Discrimination*fn1

  In the Spring of 1991, Dr. Miraglia was hired as an Adjunct Assistant Professor to teach in QCC's Speech Department. Dr. Miraglia was rehired in the Fall of 1995 as an Assistant Professor and was placed on a tenured track. At that time, Dr. Helen Yalof was the Department Chairperson. Dr. Yalof regularly and repeatedly screamed at plaintiff and demanded that she perform menial, personal tasks including washing Dr. Yalof's laundry. Dr. Yalof also took plaintiff off her tenured-track position and placed her on a Sub Line at the lowest pay possible. On October 27, 1995, plaintiff was reinstated to a full time tenured-track position by the College Administration, a decision confirmed by a vote of the Personnel and Budget ("P&B") Committee.*fn2

  Dr. Paves became Department Chairperson in 1995. In addition to making jokes about plaintiff and otherwise humiliating her, Dr. Paves was instrumental in denying plaintiff reappointment in 1997 and again in 1999.*fn3 On January 20, 2000, after plaintiff became tenured, Dr. Paves physically threatened her, causing her to file a report with Campus Security the next day. Dr. Paves retaliated against plaintiff for filing this report in a number of ways: Dr. Miraglia was moved into a cramped, poorly lit office; she was removed as a member of QCC's P&B Committee; and she was denied leave to travel to various presentations which resulted in the loss of publishing opportunities. Finally, Dr. Miraglia's teaching schedule was changed — she was assigned classes at opposite ends of the campus even though her severe arthritis made it extremely difficult for her to get to class on time. This change in plaintiff's classroom schedule exacerbated her leg and hip injuries.

  In April 2001, Dr. Robert Simons replaced Dr. Paves as Department Chairperson. Plaintiff claims that Dr. Simons perpetuated the abuse started by Dr. Paves. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Dr. Simons, along with Dr. Paves, voted against plaintiff's promotion to Associate Professor for three consecutive years. In addition, Dr. Simons gave plaintiff an unsatisfactory review as part of the Chair's Annual Evaluation in April 2001.

  As a result of defendants' discrimination, Dr. Miraglia suffered loss of past and future earnings, loss of other employment benefits, and emotional injuries.

  B. Plaintiff's Charges of Discrimination with the EEOC

  Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on January 30, 2001 (the "2001 Charge"). In the 2001 Charge, plaintiff claims she was discriminated against on the basis of age, race, sex, and in retaliation for filing an incident report with Campus Security. Specifically, plaintiff's 2001 Charge states that
[s]ince October 1997 my chair [Dr. Paves] has singled me out overtly as his target of discrimination based on age, sex, race and retaliation. He habitually screams and yells at me and demeans me in front of faculty, students and staff. * * *
In October 2000 he [Dr. Paves] attacked me physically. I filed an Incident Report at QCC. Shortly thereafter he retaliated by moving me from the spacious well-lit area which I've occupied since September 1992 to a cramped, ill-lit desk in the foyer of another office.
1/30/01 Charge of Discrimination. Plaintiff was issued a right-to-sue letter on June 6, 2001.
  Plaintiff filed a subsequent Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC on March 14, 2003 (the "2003 Charge"). The 2003 Charge claims retaliation based on her earlier complaint which she describes as a "continuing action." Specific allegations include:
• discrimination by Dr. Paves beginning in September 1995 escalating from 1997 to the date of his removal as Department Chairperson in March 2001
• harassment by Dr. Simons from April 2001 until January 2003
• denial of promotion to Associate Professor on March 7, 2002, May 2, 2002, and May 24, 2002 • denial of reappointment in 1997 and 1999
• unfair treatment in connection with a grievance filed in 2000
• credentials questioned by the Academic Review Committee on May 1, 2002
The EEOC issued a right-to-letter in connection with the 2003 Charge on July 14, 2003. The instant action was filed on October 10, 2003.

  II. LEGAL STANDARDS

  A. Motion to Dismiss

  Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint should be dismissed if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Caiola v. Citibank, N.A., New York, 295 F.3d 312, 321 (2d Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Sweet v. Sheahan, 235 F.3d 80, 83 (2d Cir. 2000). When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002). Courts may not consider matters outside the pleadings but may consider documents attached to the pleadings, documents referenced in the pleadings, or documents that are integral to the pleadings. See id. at 152-53.

  At the motion to dismiss stage, the issue "`is not whether a plaintiff is likely to prevail ultimately, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleading that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test.'" Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180, 184-85 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (quoting Chance v. Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 701 (2d Cir. 1998)). Therefore, the task of the court in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is "`merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof.'" Pierce v. ...


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