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LLOYD v. BEAR STEARNS & CO. INC.

December 9, 2004.

JOY E. LLOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
BEAR STEARNS & CO., INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE DANIELS, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff brings this action against her former employer, Bear Stearns & Co., Inc., ("Bear Stearns"), alleging violations of Title VII, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and New York State and City Law. Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is granted and plaintiff's claim is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Joy Lloyd, a black female, was employed by Bear Stearns from 1989 through January 9, 1998. Plaintiff was originally hired as a System Administrator in the firm's computer department. In her complaint, plaintiff broadly alleges that soon after she began to work for Bear Stearns, she noticed that "[a]reas which were conducive to advancement were dominated by Caucasians while Minorities were placed into low-level technical areas." Complaint p. 3, ¶ 14. She also alleges, generally, that "minorities, particularly African-Americans, were not given adequate amount of work, were given menial assignments which did not correspond with their levels of expertise and experience, [and] were left out of projects despite seniority and adequate experience levels." Id. at 3, ¶ 15. She further broadly asserts that she "was routinely denied well-deserved promotions or advancements in her area of expertise, was not given work assignments commensurate with her skills, and suffered diminished earning capacity as a result." Id. at 3, ¶ 16. Plaintiff's complaint is replete with unsupported allegations of her discriminatory claims. First, she claims that she was forced to work the night shift and that she was denied the right to take a car service home. Next, she claims that the firm asked her to work at another location that required her to walk further than she was accustomed and was forced to do so late at night. With regards to these allegations, her sole discriminatory claim seems to be that the night shift group "consisted entirely of minorities." Id. at 4, ¶ 19.

  Next, plaintiff alleges that in 1990, despite her seniority, Department Managers promoted two of her white co-workers to higher-ranking positions in the computer department. She does not allege that she was more qualified than the promoted co-workers nor that she was denied the promotion solely because she was black. Plaintiff claims that after she questioned her Department Manager about this promotion decision, she was moved, in retaliation, "from her prior desk location to a location in the hallway near an area designated for `computer garbage.'" Id. at 4, ¶ 23.

  Plaintiff next claims that in 1991, after accepting a new position as a Documentation Librarian in the "IS Documentation Group," she was discriminated against when her manager refused to allow his employees to work overtime, only relenting when a black employee resigned and was replaced with a white employee. Plaintiff alleges that after the white employee was hired, they were all allowed to work overtime. Plaintiff further claims, without any factual support, that her white co-worker received larger bonuses than she and her black co-worker.

  Plaintiff's further alleges that contrary to Bear Stearns' policy regarding new mothers that was applied to "Jewish moms," she was not permitted to work from home following the birth of her child in 1995. Transcript of Deposition of Joy Lloyd ("Lloyd Tr."), p. 67-68. Plaintiff further alleges that Bear Stearn's practice of keeping a kosher pantry for the use of its observant Jewish employees constituted racial discrimination, because "the White Jewish employees had their own pantry on the eighth floor, which the Black employees could not use." Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition, p. 6.

  Plaintiff's next set of complaints centers on a promotion that she did not receive. In May of 1996, the Manager in the "IS Documentation Group" began looking for candidates for a supervisory position within plaintiff's Librarian Unit. Plaintiff approached her Manager and asked that the promotion be given to her, but it was given instead to the Senior Project Coordinator.*fn1 In June or July of 1996, plaintiff made an appointment with the Human Resources Department to express her concerns about not being given the Supervisor position, for which she felt she was the most qualified candidate. Human Resources set up a meeting with plaintiff, the newly promoted Supervisor, plaintiff's co-workers, and plaintiff's Manager. Subsequent to this meeting, plaintiff alleges that she was retaliated against for her complaints. She claims that she "wasn't spoken to . . . was just totally ignored," and that the amount of work given to her was decreased. Lloyd Tr. p. 282. Plaintiff also alleges that the new Supervisor made three racial comments or jokes at some point after the meeting.*fn2 Complaint p. 6, ¶ 36. During the same period, another employee told her that her former Manager had commented about plaintiff: "Isn't she one of the ones I shipped out of here?"*fn3 Lloyd Tr. p. 286.

  A year later, in June of 1997, plaintiff met with the Chairman of the Board to discuss her concerns about discrimination and harassment in her department and to request a transfer to another department. Plaintiff claims that once her Supervisor became aware of the meeting, he became upset and said, "Anyone who f___ with me, I make sure I screw them royally." Complaint p. 7, ¶ 39. Plaintiff claims that her supervisor then retaliated against her further by giving her an unjustified "below standard" evaluation.*fn4 Several weeks later, plaintiff contacted the Human Resources Department and told them that she wanted to transfer to another department within Bear Stearns.

  Plaintiff claims that on August 8, 1997, after a "demeaning and distasteful" conversation with an employee of the Human Resources Department, she "suffered an attack of high blood pressure and had to be sent home." Id. at 8, ¶ 44. The following week, plaintiff suffered a stroke and began a disability leave that lasted until January 9, 1998, when she resigned. Plaintiff claims that while she was in the hospital, her Supervisor placed a "disrespectful" telephone call to plaintiff's mother, inquiring as to her whereabouts. Sutherland Aff. p. 2, ¶ 5.

  While on disability leave, plaintiff claims that she received a call from a co-worker informing her that her desk at Bear Stearns had been emptied of her personal belongings and her name had been removed from the department telephone list. During subsequent telephone conversations with an employee of the Human Resources Department, plaintiff inquired whether she had been transferred to another department. Plaintiff was informed that when she returned, she would be working as a "floater" until a permanent position in another department became available for her. As a "floater," plaintiff would move between departments, working as needed, usually performing clerical tasks. Plaintiff felt that this position was unacceptable, and resigned by a letter dated January 9, 1998.

  Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against Bear Stearns with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on October 9, 1998. She received a notice of right to sue in Federal Court on February 8, 1999, and filed her complaint in the District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 6, 1999. Plaintiff alleges that defendant subjected her to discrimination based on her race, created a hostile work environment, and retaliated against her for opposing these practices in violation of (1) Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000-e et seq; (2) New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 296.1(a) and § 296.7; and (3) New York City Administrative Code §§ 8-107.1, 8-107.6, and 8-107.7. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant's actions constituted constructive discharge under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. 1981.*fn5 After the completion of discovery, defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

  DISCUSSION

  I. Standard for Summary Judgment

  Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Under this rule, the moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that the evidence fails to raise a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After such a showing, the non-moving party must respond with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). "The non-moving party may not rely on mere conclusory allegations nor speculation, but instead must offer some hard evidence" to show that there is a genuine issue for the trier of fact to resolve. D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d 145, 149 (2d Cir. 1998).

  While deciding the motion, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Schneider v. Feinberg, 345 F.3d 135, 144 (2d Cir. 2003). The Court's role is not to resolve disputed matters it may find in the record, but merely to determine, as a threshold matter, if any exist. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Gibson v. American Broad. Cos., 892 F.2d 1128, 1132 (2d Cir. 1989).

  II. Title VII

  Title VII provides that "it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 (a)(1). Title VII cases are governed by a burden-shifting framework established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04 (1973). See, e.g., Farias v. Instructional Sys., Inc., 259 F.3d 91, 98 (2d Cir. 2001); see also Janneh v. Endvest, Inc., 64 Fed. Appx. 814, 815 (2d Cir. 2003). Under this framework, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. See McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. at 802-04. The defendant then bears the burden of articulating a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action that the plaintiff suffered. See id., 411 U.S. at 802-04. If the defendant meets this burden, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff to show that the employer's proffered reason is mere pretext, and that discrimination was the true motivation for the adverse employment action. See id., 411 U.S. at 802-04. In the context ...


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