The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
On February 26, 2002, Nicholas Sanzo ("Sanzo" or the
"plaintiff") filed a complaint against his former employer,
Uniondale Union Free School District ("District") and Grand
Avenue School ("School") (collectively the "defendants") alleging
that the defendants terminated his employment at the School
because of his disability, in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12117 (2005), and
the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290-301 (2005). Presently before the Court is the
defendants' motion for summary judgment to dismiss the amended
complaint pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
The following facts are not in dispute, except where otherwise
indicated. On August 19, 1998, the defendants hired Sanzo as head
custodian of the Grand Avenue School. His main responsibilities
included the maintenance, safety, and cleanliness of the entire
building and the direct supervision of four custodians. During
his six month probationary period, the plaintiff was disciplined
in writing by the School's Principal for falling asleep on the
job. In February 1999 his probationary period concluded, at which
time the Principal recommended that the plaintiff be given a permanent
appointment as head custodian. That recommendation was accepted, and on
February 5, 1999, the plaintiff was appointed head custodian.
On August 3, 2000, the plaintiff's physician, Dr. Frank J.
Amico, provided a letter to the School stating that "[Sanzo] is
currently under treatment for narcolepsy. He is also being worked
up for sleep apnea." On August 11, 2000, the School's Assistant
Superintendant, Gene Levenstein responded to Dr. Amico's letter
by inquiring about "the full extent of his problem as it is
imperative that I have a record of how his illness may affect his
job performance." On August 17, 2000, Dr. Amico responded that
Sanzo would need to be evaluated by a sleep disorders clinic
before the full extent of his illness could be known. On September 13, 2000,
Mr. Levenstein again wrote to further inquire about Sanzo's
condition and his ability "to perform the essential functions of
his job as a head custodian (i.e., lifting and moving various
equipment), with or without reasonable accommodation." On October
3, 2000, Dr. Amico responded and stated that Sanzo could perform
his duties as head custodian.
On December 12, 2000, the District's Superintendent of Schools,
Dr. Mary Cannie, initiated disciplinary charges against the
plaintiff pursuant to Section 75 of the Civil Service Law. The
disciplinary charges included nineteen specifications of poor
performance and misconduct, none of which stated that the
plaintiff slept on the job. According to the defendants, Dr.
Cannie was not aware that the plaintiff fell asleep on the job or
was otherwise being treated for a sleeping disorder.
In February 2001, an independent hearing officer, Valerie
Marvin, Esq., held a hearing with regard to the disciplinary
charges preferred against the plaintiff. At the hearing, the
plaintiff was represented by a union attorney. During the
four-day hearing a transcript of 495 pages was recorded; twelve
witnesses testified; the District introduced twenty-two exhibits;
and the plaintiff introduced ten exhibits. After the hearing, the
plaintiff submitted a forty-three page post-hearing brief and the
District submitted a forty-nine page post-hearing brief.
On March 28, 2001, Hearing Officer Marvin issued a twenty-seven
page report (the "Marvin Report") in which she found the
plaintiff guilty of fifteen of the nineteen specifications. In particular, specification one related to an
incident on October 8, 1999 where Sanzo failed to properly
respond to and address sparks flying from an outlet that caused a
plug to melt down and char the wall. Other specifications related
to incidents of misconduct and incompetence. As a penalty the
Hearing Officer recommended that Sanzo be terminated from his
employment at the School. On April 2, 2001, the District's Board
of Education accepted the recommendation and terminated the
plaintiff's employment effective April 4, 2001.
On or about July 9, 2001, Sanzo filed a Charge of
Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
("EEOC"). After an investigation, on December 19, 2001, the EEOC
found no probable cause of discrimination.
At or about the time of the disciplinary hearings, Sanzo
attended a sleep disorder clinic. In August 2001, the plaintiff
claims he was formally diagnosed with narcolepsy, a disorder
characterized by sudden and uncontrollable attacks of deep sleep.
The parties dispute the actual date of the formal diagnosis.
A. The Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate if the record "shows 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2550 (1986); Wilkinson v. Russell,
182 F.3d 89 (2d Cir. 1999); Turner v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 180 F.3d 451 (2d
Cir. 1999); In Re Blackwood Associates, L.P., 153 F.3d 61, 67
(2d Cir. 1998) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In deciding a
summary judgment motion, the district court must resolve all
ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the opposing party. See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 155, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2513-14 (1986);
Amato v. City of Saratoga Springs, 170 F.3d 311, 322 (2d Cir.
1999) (citing Skubel v. Fuoroli, 113 F. 3d 330, 334 (2d Cir.
1997)); Castle Rock Entm't, Inc. v. Carol Pub. Group, Inc.,
150 F.3d 132, 137 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Garza v. Marine Transp.
Lines, Inc., 861 F.2d 23, 26 (2d Cir. 1988)). Disputed facts
that are not material to the issue at hand will not defeat
summary judgment. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248,
106 S. Ct. at 2610. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the
entry of judgment." Id. A dispute about a material fact is
genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. If there is
evidence in the record, including affidavits, exhibits,
interrogatory answers, and depositions, as to any material fact
from which an inference could be drawn in favor of the
non-movant, summary judgment is unavailable. See Lane v. New
York State Electric & Gas Corp., 18 F.3d 172, 176 (2d Cir.
Notably, "the trial court's task at the summary judgment motion
state of litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether
there are genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to decide them. Its duty, in short, is
confined at this point to issue-finding, it does not extend to
issue resolution." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs. Ltd.,
22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994); see Donohue v. Windsor
Locks Board of Fire Commissioners, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir.
1987) (holding that on a ...