The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL TELESCA, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff Janet Anderson ("Anderson") brings this action
pursuant to Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq, ("ADA") and the New York State Human Rights Law
claiming that she was discriminated against by the defendant on
the basis of her alleged disability. Specifically, plaintiff
claims that she was fired from her employment because she suffers
or suffered from a liver disorder which necessitated a liver
transplant, and kidney disease requiring dialysis.
By motion dated October 8, 2004, defendant Diocese of Rochester
(the "Diocese") moves for summary judgment against the plaintiff
on grounds that the defendant was not plaintiff's employer, and
therefore, cannot be held liable to her for employment
discrimination. In support of this argument, defendant notes that
the plaintiff worked at All Saints Parish, ("All Saints") and
therefore All Saints, which is a separate corporate legal entity, distinct from the Diocese of Rochester, is plaintiff's
employer. Plaintiff opposes the defendant's motion on grounds that the
Diocese is either the plaintiff's employer or joint employer. In the
alternative, plaintiff contends that the Diocese may be held liable because
All Saints is so closely related to the Diocese and shares an identity of
interest with it.
For the reasons set forth below, I find that the defendant was
not plaintiff's employer, and therefore may not be held liable to
the plaintiff for a claim of employment discrimination.
Plaintiff Janet C. Anderson was hired by St. Mary's Church as a
church secretary in May, 1989. In 1997, Anderson was diagnosed
with liver disease, and for much of 1998 and early 1999, was on
medical leave, during which time she received a liver transplant.
In 2001, St. Mary's, which had previously consolidated operations
with other churches in the area, merged with those parishes to
become a single corporate entity named All Saints Parish. Also in
2001, plaintiff was diagnosed with kidney disease, and was
required to begin dialysis.
In June, 2003, plaintiff's employment with All Saints was terminated.
Plaintiff alleges that she was told by two of her supervisors that her
employment was terminated because of her health condition. Defendant denies
plaintiff's claim and contends that All Saints discontinued plaintiff's
employment in an effort to reduce costs. Moreover, defendant contends that it can not be
held liable to the plaintiff because the Diocese was not
Anderson's employer. Defendant claims that it neither hired nor
fired nor controlled plaintiff's employment, and therefore, it
cannot be liable to her.
Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint with the New York
State Division of Human Rights in July, 2003. Plaintiff named as
the respondent in that action the "Diocese of Rochester, All
Saints Parish." The Diocese responded to the administrative
complaint by stating, inter alia, that All Saints Parish was
the plaintiff's employer. The New York State Division of Human
Rights investigated plaintiff's allegations and found no probable
cause for the complaint. The EEOC adopted the findings of the New
York State Division of Human Rights, and on May 14, 2004, issued
to the plaintiff a right to sue letter. Thereafter, plaintiff
filed the instant complaint.
I. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith 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 judgment as a matter of law."
When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must
be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment
is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir.
1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no
rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of
summary judgment is appropriate. Annis v. County of
Westchester, 136 F.3d 239, 247 (2nd Cir. 1998).
II. The Defendant was not Plaintiff's Employer
Defendant contends that it is not liable in this action because
it was not the plaintiff's employer. It is axiomatic that only an
employer may be liable for employment discrimination. In
determining whether or not a party is an "employer" for purposes
of ADA liability, courts consider: "whether the party had
authority to hire or fire the plaintiff, supervise her work or
conditions of employment, determine her rate or method of pay, ...