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Riley v. New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

February 1, 2006

KATHLEEN D. RILEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Norman A. Mordue, D.J.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

BACKGROUND

Presently before the Court is a motion for summary judgment dismissing the remaining claims in this employment discrimination action. By Memorandum-Decision and Order dated August 4, 2003, this Court dismissed all claims against defendants Jean Somers Miller and Dale Adami, as well as all New York state law claims against the remaining defendant, New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services ("OASAS"), plaintiff's former employer. The sole claims remaining are plaintiff's Title VII claims of employment discrimination against OASAS. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. For a summary of plaintiff's claims, the Court refers the reader to the August 4, 2003 Memorandum-Decision and Order.

OASAS moves for summary judgment on the remaining claims. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion and dismisses the case.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment standard

A party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the Court, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and drawing all reasonable inferences in non-movant's favor, determines that the movant has satisfied this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to adduce evidence establishing the existence of a disputed issue of material fact requiring a trial. See Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir.1989). If the non-movant fails to carry this burden, summary judgment is appropriate. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

Limitations Period

OASAS' principal argument is that plaintiff's claims are time-barred. Plaintiff filed her discrimination charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("DHR") on October 13, 2000. Thus, unless an exception applies, the 300-day limitation period bars claims based on incidents occurring before December 18, 1999, that is, incidents occurring more than 300 days prior to the filing of the DHR charge.*fn1 See Quinn v. Green Tree Credit Corp., 159 F.3d 759, 765 (2d Cir. 1998).

Plaintiff alleges a series of actions by co-worker Dale Adami occurring between January 1999 and October 1999,*fn2 which, according to plaintiff, constituted sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment.*fn3 There is no non-conclusory allegation of harassment by Adami occurring within the 300-day period, that is, after December 18, 1999. Thus, all hostile work environment and/or sexual harassment claims directly based on his conduct are time-barred. Likewise, all claims based on OASAS' alleged encouragement of or failure to stop Adami's harassing conduct are time-barred.

Continuing Violation

Plaintiff argues that her DHR charge was timely because she has submitted evidence of a continuing violation. "[A] continuing violation may be found where there is proof of specific ongoing discriminatory polices or practices, or where specific and related instances of discrimination are permitted by the employer to continue unremedied for so long as to amount to a discriminatory policy or practice." Cornwell v. Robinson, 23 F.3d 694, 704 (2d Cir. 1994). Where a plaintiff is subjected to a continuous practice or policy of discrimination, the limitations period does not begin to run until the last discriminatory act in furtherance of that practice or policy. See id. at 703.

Here, even if the continuing violation doctrine were to be applied with respect to Adami's conduct, the evidence is that such conduct ceased by October 1999. It is true that in her affidavit and Memorandum of Law in opposition to this motion, plaintiff for the first time refers to an e-mail from her to Luke Luyckx dated June 28, 2001. Plaintiff asserts that this e-mail is evidence that she was subjected to continuing harassment. The minor incidents of which she complains in this e-mail fall well below the level required to make out a claim of sexual harassment or hostile work environment so as to support a finding of a continuing violation. Nor are there non- conclusory allegations of ongoing incidents sufficient to bridge the one-and-a-half year gap between October 1999 and the June 28, 2001 e-mail. Moreover, the allegations in the June 28, 2001 e-mail are inconsistent with plaintiff's lengthy deposition testimony and thus fail to raise a question of fact. See generally Hayes v. New York City Dep't of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 619 (2d Cir. 1996).

Nor can OASAS be charged with a continuing violation arising from its alleged failure to act upon plaintiff's complaints. Logically, OASAS' obligation to protect plaintiff from Adami's harassment ended ...


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