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KRASNER v. EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND

August 9, 2004.

ROSALIND KRASNER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND, CHURCH OF THE ADVENT, JEFFREY KRANTZ, Reverand (sued in his individual capacity pursuant to N.Y. Executive Law sec. 290 et seq.), KEN SYBESMA (sued in his individual capacity pursuant to N.Y. Executive Law sec. 290 et. seq.), Defendants.



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

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

This case involves claims by the plaintiff Rosalind Krasner ("Krasner" or the "plaintiff") of sexual harassment and hostile work environment against The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island ("Diocese"), Church of the Advent ("Church"), Reverend Jeffrey Krantz (Krantz"), and Reverend Ken Sybesma ("Sybesma") pursuant to 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 § 290 et seq. ("NYHRL"). Presently before the Court are the following two motions: (1) a motion by the defendant Diocese to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P."); and (2) a cross-motion by the plaintiff Krasner for leave to file an amended complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a).

I. BACKGROUND

  The following facts are taken from the complaint, which the Court construes as true for the purpose of deciding the Rule 12(b)(6) motion. On September 13, 1993, the Church hired the plaintiff to operate the parish office. Her responsibilities include maintaining finances, accounting of incoming money, banking deposits, managing financial reports, cutting payroll checks, paying monthly bills, scheduling Church and community functions at the parish hall, addressing parishioners telephone inquiries, and preparing bulletins. In addition to these responsibilities, the plaintiff works closely with many parishioners and their families for baptisms, funerals, weddings, and other services.

  On or about December 22, 1996, Krantz took over as Reverend for the Church and became the plaintiff's immediate supervisor. On April 15, 2002, Krantz handed the plaintiff a floppy disk to print a letter from the disk. When the plaintiff opened the disk, she discovered that it contained pornographic images. Krasner asked Krantz why he gave her a disk with pornographic images, to which he responded, "What did you think?" The plaintiff told him that his behavior was unacceptable.

  According to the plaintiff, after she confronted Krantz, he began to increase his supervision over her, ridicule her in front of others, and accuse her of incompetency. In the complaint, the plaintiff describes a litany of incidents in which Krantz humiliated and verbally abused the plaintiff to attempt to force her to leave her position at the Church. In one such instance, the plaintiff states that, in April 2002, Krantz became "furious" with her because he thought that the plaintiff was processing Sunday bulletin inserts too early. Krasner informed him that he was frightening and worrying her. He responsed, "You had better be worried."

  On April 30, 2002, the plaintiff was sick, out of work and under the care of her treating physician. During that time, the plaintiff, her mother, and her nurse kept Krantz apprised of her health status. Krantz placed a letter in her mailbox questioning her illness and requested that she respond to his letter. He warned her that, if she did not return to work, she would be fired. When the plaintiff returned to work, she handed a response in writing to Krantz, at which time he threw her letter into a trash can and stated that he did not care what she had to say.

  In another situation, in an attempt to embarrass the plaintiff, Krantz sent a letter to the entire congregation advising them that he was "short-handed" and that he was unable to send out a certain letter for a festival. Krasner also claims that Krantz "confronted" the plaintiff about incorrect financial statements which she did not prepare. In another situation, Krantz became furious with the plaintiff because she did not inspect a van that was going to be used by the Church. In addition, Krantz blamed the plaintiff for losing two of his palm pilots and insinuated that she was responsible for losing two of his cell phones. Krantz, in front of several individuals, also blamed the plaintiff for losing a donation check in the amount of $25,000.

  With regard to Reverend Sybesma, who also worked for the Church, the plaintiff claims that he began to sexually harass her. According to the plaintiff, on several occasions, when the plaintiff was away from her office, she returned to find Sybesma in her office looking at pictures of nude men on her computer. Furthermore, the plaintiff claims that Sybesma would often masturbate at her desk while viewing the pornographic images. According to the plaintiff, she complained to Krantz about Sybesma's behavior, but he did nothing to stop it.

  Finally, on April 15, 2002, the plaintiff reported the actions of Krantz and Sybesma to Linda Haye, the office administrator of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Thereafter, in June 2002, the plaintiff requested permission to take a thirty day leave of absence to help take care of her mother who was undergoing two major abdominal surgeries. Krantz denied her request. In October 2002, Krantz wrote a letter for the Church's November newsletter that was sent to the entire congregation. Without specifically referring to her name, the letter stated that the plaintiff was an "ungrateful" employee. According to the plaintiff, she knew that Krantz was referring to her because of her request for a leave of absence. The plaintiff continued to complain to Haye about the individual defendants.

  On October 28, 2002, Haye recommended that the plaintiff contact Father Joel Harvey ("Father Harvey"), the head of the Long Island Diocese Response Team. On November 5, 2002, the plaintiff spoke to Father Harvey, and he advised her to file a formal complaint with him. Father Harvey further informed her that the complaint would be kept confidential and that he would arrange for a meeting with the Response Team to hear her complaint.

  On December 3, 2002, the plaintiff, along with her representative Susan Avellino, met with the Response Team and reported the incidents with Krantz and Sybesma. The Response Team "threatened" that if she commenced a legal action against Krantz or Sybesma, Krantz would sue her. The Response Team determined that the plaintiff and Krantz should not work together until further notice. On December 6, 2002, the Response Team showed Krantz the transcript of the December 3, 2002 meeting.

  On December 8, 2002, the plaintiff telephoned Father Harvey and asked him whether she could return to work. Two days later, the plaintiff went to work and decided that if she saw Krantz's car, she would leave, but because his car was not in the parking lot, she remained at work. That same day, Father Harvey telephoned the plaintiff to advise her that Krantz's response at the December 6, 2002 meeting was "contrite and sad" and that Krantz agreed to apologize to the plaintiff. The Response Team proposed that Krantz and the plaintiff work at separate time and not be in the same room without supervision. The plaintiff was further advised that the Bishop was to review her sexual harassment complaints.

  On December 18, 2002, Father Harvey again telephoned the plaintiff. He informed her that Krantz was inquiring as to whether the plaintiff had spoken to the Church vestry members about what had transpired and whether the plaintiff would accept his apology. Krasner responded "no" to both inquiries. Because the plaintiff was upset about what had happened with Krantz ...


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