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GAD-TADROS v. BESSEMER VENTURE PARTNERS

July 26, 2004.

NANCY GAD-TADROS, Plaintiff,
v.
BESSEMER VENTURE PARTNERS and DEER MANAGEMENT CO., LLC, CORINNE PANKOVCIN, J. EDMUND COLLOTON, and ROBERT H. BUESCHER, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

On May 1, 2003, Nancy Gad-Tadros ("Gad-Tadros" or the "plaintiff') commenced this action against Bessemer Venture Partners ("BVP"), Deer Management Co., LLC ("DMC"), Corrine Pankovcin ("Pankovcin"), J. Edmund Colloton ("Colloton"), and Robert H. Buescher ("Buescher") (collectively, the "defendants"), asserting claims of employment discrimination and retaliation based on her religion, national origin, and race. Presently before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim and lack of personal jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND

  A. Factual Background

  The following facts are taken from the amended complaint unless otherwise noted. The plaintiff is a self-described Coptic Christian female of Egyptian and Arab national origin and race. From December 1999 through January 2001, she worked as a staff accountant for the defendants BVP and DMC. During that period, there were no other employees of the same religion, national origin, and race as the plaintiff.

  At the time the plaintiff was hired, the defendant Buescher was the managing partner of BVP and was her immediate supervisor. In March of 2001, BVP and DMC hired the defendant Pankovcin who became the plaintiff's direct supervisor, thus acquiring management responsibility over the plaintiff. In September of 2001, the defendant Colloton was hired as an Administrative Partner and/or the Chief Operating Officer of BVP. Colloton's status at BVP gave him management responsibility over the plaintiff, as well as the two other named individual defendants.

  Throughout the plaintiff's tenure at BVP and DMC, she consistently received excellent performance reviews. In addition, the plaintiff's supervisors continuously documented her successful performance of all aspects of her job. However, according to the plaintiff, after Pankovcin joined the corporation, the plaintiff was continuously treated in a harsh and abusive manner, which was in sharp contrast with the way other employees were treated. In particular, Pankovcin allegedly belittled the plaintiff's Egyptian and Arab national origin, race, surname and Egyptian education and background. In addition, Pankovcin threatened to demote the plaintiff from her role as an accountant to a position as a bookkeeper.

  Also, it is further alleged that, while BVP and DMC promoted less qualified co-workers with less seniority than the plaintiff, the defendants repeatedly passed over the plaintiff without justification. In addition, the defendants intentionally deprived the plaintiff of certain training opportunities, which apparently prevented her from any chance to maintain her employment at BVP and DMC. The plaintiff claims that her national origin, race and religion were the basis for the disparity in treatment between her and other employees. Although the plaintiff complained of the discriminatory conduct on a number of occasions, the individual defendants never took any action.

  The plaintiff also claims that she witnessed Pankovcin discriminating against a Polish female co-worker, who was ultimately forced to leave the company. It is unclear from the complaint whether the plaintiff complained to the defendants about that incident. However, the plaintiff alleges that Buescher and Colloton eventually promised the plaintiff that they would admonish Pankovcin for her discriminatory conduct against the plaintiff's co-worker. However, despite this promise, the defendants did nothing.

  Further, the plaintiff asserts that, on or about January 31, 2002, the ongoing discrimination and the defendants' unwillingness to rectify the discrimination resulted in her "constructive discharge." By that time, Buescher had become partner emeritus but still acted as a consultant to BVP and exercised control over management decisions. Subsequent to her constructive discharge, as part of her severance payment, BVP and/or DMC deposited a check directly into the plaintiff's bank account and apparently wanted her to sign a release form. She continued to complain about her treatment and refused to sign the release form. As a result, the defendants withdrew two weeks of severance pay from her account.

  B. Procedural Background

  On an unspecified date, the plaintiff filed a timely charge of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR") and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On March 25, 2003, the SDHR issued a Determination and Order dismissing the charge for "administrative convenience." On May 5, 2003, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue to the plaintiff. On July 23, 2003, she commenced this action within 90 days of receipt of the Notice, claiming that the named defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e ("Title VII"), and New York's Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 ("NYHRL").

  On October 30, 2003, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, adding a claim for retaliation under Title VII and claims for race discrimination and retaliation under Section 1981. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff asserts claims against the corporate defendants BVP and DMC pursuant to Title VII, Section 1981, and the NYHRL. As to the individual defendants Buescher, Pankovcin and Colloton, the plaintiff sets forth claims under Section 1981 and the NYHRL.

  The defendants now move to dismiss for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P.") or, in the alternative, move to dismiss the claims as to Buescher and BVP for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). The defendants contend that the plaintiff fails to (1) state a claim of discrimination in the terms and conditions of her employment under pursuant to Title VII, Section 1981, or the NYHRL; (2) state a claim of retaliation pursuant to Title VII, Section 1981, or the NYHRL; and (3) state a claim for individual liability under the NYHRL. In addition, the defendants move to dismiss the action for lack of personal ...


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