The opinion of the court was delivered by: NINA GERSHON, District Judge
Plaintiff Hugh Payne, who worked in the Human Resources ("HR")
department at defendant MTA New York City Transit Authority
("NYCTA") for fifteen years, brings this action alleging
employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17 ("Title VII"),
the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290-301
("State HRL"), and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City
Admin. Code §§ 8-101-8-131. ("City HRL"). Plaintiff claims that
the NYCTA discriminated against him because of his race and
subjected him to a hostile work environment. He further claims
that he suffered retaliation after filing a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Defendant moves for
summary judgment, arguing that (1) certain claims made by
plaintiff are barred because plaintiff failed to include them in
a timely filed EEOC charge, (2) defendant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law on plaintiff's remaining discrimination
claims, (3) defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
on plaintiff's retaliation claim, and (4) defendant is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's state and local law
claims. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.
The following background facts are not in dispute; additional
undisputed facts are set forth infra. Payne, who identifies
himself as a black male, was hired by the NYCTA as a Finance
Manager in the HR department in February 1986. One year later, he
was promoted to Deputy Director of Budget, and two years after
that, he was promoted to Director of Budget and Administration.
In that position, he reported to Charles Teggatz, Vice President
for Budget and Administration. Teggatz, in turn, reported to Liz
Lowe, Vice President for the entire HR department. Teggatz is
white and Lowe is black. In September 1990, Payne received a 10%
salary increase. In June 1992, Payne was promoted to Senior
Director of Budget and Administration. He received another 10%
salary increase and continued to report to Teggatz. In June 1993,
June 1994, and June 1996, Payne received 4% salary increases. In
July or August 1996, Payne was promoted to Assistant Vice
President ("AVP") for Administration and Budget. He did not
receive a salary increase at that time. He began reporting to
Sandra Williams, Deputy Vice President for Employee Development
and Training. Williams also reported to Lowe. Williams is black.
During Lowe's tenure as department head, department-wide staff
meetings were held on a regular basis. Attendees included Lowe;
Williams; Teggatz; Robert Kayer, AVP for Occupational Health
Services; Brian Semler, AVP for Field Services; Linda Feeny, AVP
for Strategic Planning; and Payne. Kayer, Semler, and Feeny are
white. During these meetings, Payne would be called upon
routinely to make presentations concerning the budget. The
presentations were typically subjected to a high level of
scrutiny. Payne's colleagues would ask detailed questions and
request that back-up data be provided. Members of Payne's staff were also
called upon, from time to time, to make budget presentations at
Lowe's staff meetings.
In fall 1996, Lowe resigned her position, and Teggatz took over
as Acting Vice President for HR. He remained in that position
until May 1997, when Kevin Hyland was appointed Vice President
for HR. Hyland is white. Hyland instituted a major reorganization
of the HR department, which resulted in Williams' title being
reduced one level to Assistant Vice President, Payne's title
being reduced one level to Senior Director, and several assistant
vice presidents, including Teggatz, and Kayer being transferred
out of the department. Neither Williams nor Payne received a pay
cut. During the tenures of Teggatz and Hyland as department head,
department-wide staff meetings were not held regularly.
On February 13, 1998, Payne was injured in a car accident. He
was out of work until April 1998. In Payne's absence, Williams
assigned his responsibilities to other members of her staff. Upon
Payne's return to work, Williams did not return to him any
responsibilities concerning the budget. Instead, she offered him
the opportunity to work on an infrastructure project. Payne
informed her that he could handle the project in addition to his
regular workload, but Williams told him that the position would
be full-time. Payne declined it. In July 1998, Williams offered
Payne the opportunity to lead a special telecommunications
initiative. Again, she told him that it would be a full time
position and, again, he declined it. On September 28, 1998,
Williams informed Payne that she was reorganizing her staff.
Donna James, who formerly reported to Payne, would be promoted to
head of the administrative unit. James is black. Payne would now
be in charge of the facilities area and would report to James.
Although Payne did not consent to these changes, they were
announced at a staff meeting the following day. Payne was
instructed to vacate his current office and move to a different office in the building. While
packing the contents of his file cabinet, Payne reinjured his
back. He was out of work until February 1999.
On December 4, 1998, Williams contacted Payne to advise him
that an independent medical examination by doctors affiliated
with the workers' compensation program indicated that he would be
able to return to work on December 9, 1998. On December 7, 1998,
Payne filed a charge with the EEOC. Following his return to work
in February 1999, Payne left early each day on instructions from
his doctor. Williams directed that his time sheets indicate that
he was absent without official leave ("AWOL") during these
periods. In March 1999, Payne received an employee review from
Williams that rated his performance in certain areas as marginal.
In May 1999, James decided to reduce the number of beepers
available to her unit. She instructed all personnel who reported
directly to her, including Payne, to turn in their beepers.
Subsequently, one beeper was assigned to the entire unit and
maintained by James. Payne was required to go to her office and
sign it out when he wanted to use it.
Payne commenced this lawsuit on June 7, 1999. His complaint
alleged discrimination on the bases of race, color, ethnicity and
national origin in violation of Title VII, the State HRL, and the
City HRL. At oral argument, he withdrew all alleged bases of
discrimination other than race. His complaint also alleged
retaliation in violation of Title VII and the State HRL. Since
the commencement of this action, Payne has retired from the NYCTA
on disability. DISCUSSION
I. Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment shall be granted if "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c). Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who
fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of
an element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The standard for granting
summary judgment mirrors the standard for a directed verdict
under Rule 50(a), which permits the court to grant a motion for
judgment as a matter of law when "there is no legally sufficient
evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury" to decide an essential
issue in favor of the non-moving party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1);
see id. at 323.
When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c),
its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co, Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986). To prevail, the non-moving party must come forward with
"specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); id. at 587. A complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial, and entitles the
moving party to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp.,
477 U.S. at 323.
In employment discrimination actions, courts are cautious about
granting summary judgment when intent is at issue. This is
because "a victim . . . [is] seldom able to prove his or her
claim by direct evidence and is usually constrained to rely on the
cumulative weight of circumstantial evidence." Rosen v.
Thornburgh, 928 F.2d 528, 533 (2d Cir. 1991); accord Gallo v.
Prudential Residential Services, 22 F.3d 1219 (2d Cir. 1994).
Nevertheless, "the salutary purposes of summary judgement
avoiding protracted, expensive and harassing trials apply no
less to discrimination cases than to . . . other areas of
litigation." Weinstock v. Columbia University, 224 F.3d 33, 41
(2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Meiri v. ...