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PRINCE v. CABLEVISION SYSTEMS CORPORATION

May 6, 2005.

COURTNEY PRINCE, Plaintiff,
v.
CABLEVISION SYSTEMS CORPORATION, d/b/a Madison square Garden, a corporation; JASON VOGEL, an individual; and RYAN HALKATT, an individual, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Defendants Cablevision Systems Corporation ("Cablevision"), Madison Square Garden ("MSG"), a limited partnership, Jason Vogel ("Vogel") and Ryan Halkatt ("Halkatt") (collectively, the "Defendants") have moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R. Civ. P., to dismiss in part the Complaint of Courtney Prince ("Prince") alleging employment discrimination in violation of federal, state, and municipal statute, and common law tort. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part.

  Prior Proceedings

  Prince filed her Complaint on October 18, 2004. The First Cause of Action asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") against MSG for sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, and retaliation. The Second and Third Causes of Action assert state*fn1 and municipal law*fn2 claims against all defendants for sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, and retaliation. The Fourth Cause of Action asserts state law assault and battery claims against Vogel. The Fifth and Sixth Causes of Action assert aiding and abetting claims against Halkatt pursuant to the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. On November 30, 2004, the Defendants answered the Complaint.

  Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Defendants moved on November 30, 2004 to dismiss in part the First, Second, and Third Causes of Action on the grounds that the allegations are insufficient to support claims of hostile work environment and to impute liability to MSG. The Defendants also sought dismissal of the state and municipal law claims against the individual defendants on the following alternative grounds: (1) that the state and municipal claims are insufficient as a matter of law to support individual liability, and (2) that supplemental jurisdiction should not be exercised over the claims.

  The Defendants have not moved to dismiss those portions of the First, Second and Third Causes of Action that allege that MSG retaliated against Prince in violation of federal, state, and municipal law.

  The motion was heard and marked fully submitted on January 19, 2005.

  The Parties Prince is a professional figure skater who was employed as a member and captain of the Ranger City Skaters (the "Skaters"). The Skaters are ice skating cheerleaders of the New York Rangers (the "Rangers"), a professional hockey team. (See Compl. ¶ 1).

  MSG is a limited partnership and the former employer of Prince. (See id. ¶¶ 18, 21).

  Vogel is an employee of MSG and deputy director of public relations for the Rangers. (See id. ¶ 23.)

  Halkatt, who was Prince's immediate supervisor, is employed by MSG as the director of game-day presentation for the Rangers. (See id. ¶ 22.)

  The Facts

  The following facts are drawn from the allegations contained in the Complaint. All well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true for the purposes of this motion. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002). The following statements do not constitute findings of the Court.

  Prince was hired by MSG in the fall of 2001 to be a member of the Skaters, which was formed in 2002. (See Compl. ¶ 21.) She was made captain of the team in August, 2003. (See id. ¶ 25.) In this capacity, Prince's duties included communicating to the Skaters the directives of management. (See id.)

  MSG featured the Skaters on the Rangers website and as part of the team's public relations program. (See id. ¶ 39.) Among their duties, Prince and other Skaters were required to appear at certain post-game events, a duty for which they received no additional compensation. (See id. ¶ 28.)

  It was MSG's official policy that the Skaters appear sexually alluring. (See id. ¶ 48.) MSG apparently encouraged the Skaters to stuff their bras to enhance their breast size and to follow strict diet regimens that included use of diet pills in some instances. (See id. ¶¶ 47, 49, 50.) Although MSG told the Skaters not to fraternize with Rangers team members, the Skaters were required or expected to fraternize with MSG management at post-game events. (See id. ¶¶ 28, 35, 51.) MSG management, including Halkatt, took steps to ensure that certain Skaters who were "fancied" by MSG managers attended these events, and he directed Prince to facilitate this directive. (See id. ¶ 35.) Underage Skaters have attended these events, at which alcohol was served. (See id. ¶ 36.) In some instances, MSG management personnel engaged in sex talk with the Skaters. (See id. ¶ 51.)

  Prince, other Skaters, and members of MSG management were in attendance at one of these post-game events on December 22, 2003, at a bar called Lobby. (See id. ¶ 28). Prince and other Skaters agreed to leave Lobby and go to a bar called Daddy-O's. (See id. ¶ 24.) Vogel and another male accompanied Prince to Daddy-O's. (See id. ¶ 30.)

  At Daddy-O's, Vogel attempted to kiss Prince, told her that he wanted to have sex with her and other Skaters, and solicited her to go into the public bathroom to have sex with him. (See id. ¶ 31.) Prince rejected these advances. (See id.) When Prince realized no other Skaters were arriving at Daddy-O's, she left. (See id. ¶ 32.)

  Following these events, Prince advised her teammates what had happened with Vogel and warned them to stay away from him. (See id. ¶ 33.) One teammate said that an MSG manager had previously warned her about Vogel. (See id. ¶ 34.) Not long afterward, MSG learned that Prince had made allegations about a member of MSG management. (See id. ¶ 37.) On January 22, 2004, MSG alleged that Prince: (1) had disparaged MSG management and (2) had falsely accused a member of management of being a "sexual predator." (See id.) Thereafter, MSG and Halkatt did not call Prince for work, and they deleted references to her from the Rangers website. (See id. ¶¶ 38, 39.)

  Prince filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming sexual harassment and retaliation, and the EEOC issued a finding of Probable Cause ...


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