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MARTINEZ v. AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION

June 23, 2005.

ROBERT MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION, LOCAL 1056 AND NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID TRAGER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Robert Martinez ("Martinez" or "plaintiff"), acting pro se, brings this employment discrimination action against his former employer, the New York City Transit Authority ("Transit Authority") and his former union, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1056 (the "Union") (collectively, "defendants"), alleging that he suffered unlawful discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). Defendants move for summary judgment to dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Background

  (1)

  Martinez began working for the Transit Authority as a Bus Operator in 1985 and became a member of the Union around that time.*fn1 See Defendant Transit Authority's Statement of Material Facts Pursuant to Rule 56.1 ("T.A. 56.1 Statement") ¶ 2; id. at Ex. 13 at 49 (deposition of Robert Martinez).*fn2 His nearly eighteen-year tenure was marred by an extensive disciplinary record that included several run-ins with supervisors. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 2. A transcript of his work history shows numerous warnings and reprimands, including at least nineteen separate suspensions. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 2; id. at Ex. 2. He was eventually dismissed in 2003.

  The incident that led to plaintiff's dismissal took place on February 20, 2003, while he was working the overnight shift. At approximately 12 a.m., plaintiff's supervisor, General Superintendent Joseph King ("King"), who was conducting an inspection of the depot, noticed that plaintiff was not wearing a mandatory safety vest and called out to him from a distance of about 30 feet, telling him to put it on. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 11; id. at Ex. 12 at 3 (arbitration decision and award, dated March 7, 2003).

  According to King, Martinez was holding a newspaper and responded that he was "too busy" to change into the appropriate gear. See Affidavit of Joseph King in Support of the Transit Authority's Motion for Summary Judgment ("King Aff.") ¶ 3. King issued a second request, but Martinez refused. After a third request, when Martinez continued to indicate that he was not going to comply, King took Martinez out of service and told him to leave the property. See King Aff. ¶ 3.

  Martinez presents a different account of this encounter. He contends that he was carrying the newspaper to the nearest dumpster when the first request was made. When the request was issued a second time, at closer range, Martinez claims he began walking toward the locker room to comply. See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("Am. Cplt.") at 9.

  After Martinez was told to leave the property, he went to the locker room to put on his safety vest. King, in the presence of several co-workers, told Martinez again to leave the premises and report to King's office the next morning. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 12; Am. Cplt. at 5. Martinez followed King to the office of the Line Supervisor, asking why he was being sent home. He also requested a "to/from" form in order to report his version of the incident. See Am. Cplt. at 5; T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 5-6. The Line Supervisor refused to give Martinez a "to/from" form, and King told Martinez that the police would be contacted if he refused to leave the premises. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 12. Martinez again refused, and King called the police. After the police arrived and threatened to arrest Martinez, he agreed to leave the Transit Authority property. See T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 12.

  After this incident, the Transit Authority issued a disciplinary action notice ("DAN") seeking Martinez's dismissal. T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 11. Later, the Transit Authority issued a second DAN, which charged plaintiff with a "failure to obey a direct order and surrender [his] transit pass on 2/21 and on 2/25/03." T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 2.

  (2)

  On March 7, 2003, pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Transit Authority, the parties appeared before an arbitrator to determine whether there was just cause for Martinez's suspension and discharge. T.A. 56.1 Statement ¶ 10. The arbitrator found just cause for the dismissal and denied the Union's grievance in its entirety. See T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 10. The arbitrator concluded that on February 20, 2003, Martinez refused his supervisor's repeated direct orders to put on a safety vest and refused subsequent, repeated orders to leave Transit Authority property. See T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 7-8. The arbitrator also concluded that on February 21, 2003, Martinez refused an order to turn in his Transit Authority pass. See T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 7-8. According to the arbitrator, the facts of the case showed a "clear and flagrant case of insubordination." T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 7. The arbitrator concluded that Martinez had "proven himself to be incorrigible, and the Authority need not keep such person in its employ." T.A. 56.1 Statement Ex. 12 at 10.

  (3)

  Martinez claims that racial and religious animus, in addition to retaliation for his past complaints against supervisors,*fn3 motivated the Transit Authority to terminate his employment. Martinez further claims that the Union breached its duty of fair representation at the subsequent arbitration hearing because of a similar racial and religious animus. With respect to this latter claim, Martinez claims that he was prejudiced because only his prior reprimands and infractions,*fn4 and not his commendations, were brought up at the hearing. Affidavit of Robert Martinez in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Martinez Aff.") at 6 (Dkt. No. 26). He further complains that none of the witnesses to the exchange in the locker room were called to testify on his behalf, see Martinez Aff. at 6, and that the arbitrator never considered complaints by other employees against King. Finally, Martinez claims ...


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