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Sackey v. City of New York

February 15, 2006

KARLA SACKEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION, AND DAVID OWUSU-FIANKO, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William H. Pauley III, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Karla Sackey ("Plaintiff" or "Sackey") brings this employment discrimination action against the City of New York (the "City"), the New York City Department of Sanitation (the "DOS"), and David Owusu-Fianko ("Fianko") (collectively, the "Defendants"), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; New York State Human Rights Law (the "HRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq.; New York City Human Rights Law (the "NYCHRL"), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq; and two collective bargaining agreements. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was hired by the DOS as a clerk in 1973. (Deposition of Karla Sackey, dated Dec. 29, 2004 ("Sackey Dep.") at 14; Declaration of Karla Sackey, dated Oct. 14, 2005 ("Sackey Decl.") ¶ 2.) In December 1983, Plaintiff was promoted to the position of Principal Administrative Associate I ("PAA I"). (Sackey Decl. ¶ 7.) PAA I employees perform both supervisory tasks and administrative work for DOS managers. (Declaration of Jason Bogni, dated Sept. 23, 2005 ("Bogni Decl.") Ex. E.) In June 1986, Plaintiff was promoted to Principal Administrative Associate II ("PAA II"), and remains in that position today. (Sackey Decl. ¶¶ 8-9.) PAA II employees have responsibilities similar to those of PAA I employees but work in larger or more complex operations. (Bogni Decl. Ex. E.) Since 1993, Plaintiff has worked in the Private Carter's Liason Service unit of the DOS (the "PCLS"). (Sackey Decl. ¶ 10.)

A Principal Administrative Associate III ("PAA III") performs work similar to but more difficult than that performed by a PAA II. (Bogni Decl. Ex. E.) Plaintiff claims to have requested a PAA III promotion twice since moving to the PCLS. Plaintiff first requested the promotion on her 1995 annual evaluation. (Declaration of Frederick K. Brewington, dated Oct. 14, 2005 ("Brewington Decl.") Ex. N; Sackey Decl. ¶ 16.) However, Aaron Bramwell was eventually promoted instead of Plaintiff, allegedly because of his superior political connections. (Sackey Decl. ¶ 17; Sackey Dep. at 93.) In October 2000, after Bramwell's departure, Plaintiff claims to have reiterated the promotion request to her supervisors. (Sackey Dep. at 88-90.) Although she was allegedly given Bramwell's responsibilities, she was not promoted to PAA III. (Sackey Decl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff made no further requests for a promotion. (Sackey Dep. at 90.)

Fianko has been Plaintiff's direct supervisor at the PCLS since August 2000. (Sackey Dep. at 58.) In October 2000, Fianko moved Plaintiff from her cubicle in the front of the office to a more desirable workspace in the rear. (Sackey Dep. at 127-28, 133.) In March 2002, Fianko observed Plaintiff fixing her hair at her desk and reprimanded her by moving her back to her old cubicle. (Sackey Dep. at 133.) The parties dispute whether male PCLS employees have been similarly punished for grooming themselves at work.

Plaintiff took sick leave from July 2, 2002 through July 5, 2002. (Sackey Decl. ¶ 42.) On July 8, 2002, Plaintiff presented Fianko with a note from a nurse practitioner excusing her absence from work. Fianko rejected the note. (Sackey Decl. ¶ 43.) Although Fianko had previously accepted notes from Plaintiff's nurse practitioner (Bogni Decl. Ex. M; Sackey Dep. at 168-69), on this occasion he demanded a note from a medical doctor (Sackey Dep. at 168-69). Fianko denied Plaintiff's request to leave PCLS during work hours to obtain that documentation. (Sackey Dep. at 170; Sackey Decl. ¶ 52.) That same day, Plaintiff contacted the medical clinic and had one of its medical doctors fax a note to Fianko. However, Fianko rejected this faxed note because it lacked an original signature. (Sackey Decl. ¶¶ 54-55.)

The exchange between Sackey and Fianko became contentious. (Sackey Decl. ¶¶ 56-57.) At some point, Plaintiff indicated her intention to file sexual harassment charges against Fianko. (Sackey Dep. at 170-71; Sackey Decl. ¶¶ 58-59.) Fianko suspended Plaintiff. (Bogni Decl. Ex. K.) The parties disagree as to whether the suspension occurred before or after Plaintiff threatened to file charges, but in any event, Fianko later identified the threat as one reason for the suspension. (Bogni Decl. Ex. P.) Plaintiff did not leave the office, so Fianko called the police to have her removed. The police officers declined to take action against Plaintiff. (Sackey Decl. ¶¶ 59-60.)

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights ("CCHR") on October 8, 2002. The CCHR complaint alleges that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of her gender by: (1) refusing Plaintiff's requests for promotions and merit raises; (2) moving Plaintiff to a less desirable workspace in March 2002; and (3) refusing to accept her medical note on July 8, 2002. (Bogni Decl. Ex. N ¶¶ 6-9.) The DOS Equal Employment Opportunity Office ("EEO"), tasked with investigating the CCHR complaint, conducted document discovery, interviewed witnesses and reviewed written submissions from the parties. (Bogni Decl. Ex. P.) On December 19, 2002, the EEO investigator issued a report recommending that Plaintiff's CCHR complaint be dismissed. (Bogni Decl. Ex. P.)

On October 14, 2003, the CCHR issued a decision dismissing Plaintiff's complaint in its entirety. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC") issued a right-to-sue letter on January 13, 2004. (Bogni Decl. Ex. R.) Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action on April 12, 2004, alleging that Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her gender by: (1) failing to promote Plaintiff to the position of PAA III; (2) creating a hostile work environment; and (3) retaliating against Plaintiff for indicating an intention to file gender discrimination charges. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants breached two collective bargaining agreements-one between the City of New York and District Council 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO, and the other between the City and Local Union 1180-by refusing to accept the documentation Plaintiff provided to excuse her sick leave from July 2 to July 5, 2002.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is warranted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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 Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The materiality of disputed facts is determined by the governing substantive law. Dister v. Cont'l Group, Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988). Material facts are those that "affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law [while] an issue of fact is 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Shade v. Hous. Auth. of New Haven, 251 F.3d 307, 314 (2d Cir. 2001). The burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine dispute as to a material fact rests with the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Grady v. Affiliated Cent., Inc., 130 F.3d 553, 559 (2d Cir. 1997). In determining whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255.

If the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must then come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Carlton v. Mystic Transp., Inc., 202 F.3d 129, 133 (2d Cir. 2000). The non-moving party must "do more than simply show there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and "may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation," Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-movant's] position will be insufficient." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248. Instead, the non-movant must offer "concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in [her] favor." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252. Where it is apparent that no rational finder of fact "could find in favor of the non-moving part[ies] because the evidence to support [their] case is so slight," summary judgment should be granted. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994).

II. Failure to Promote

A. Statute of Limitations

A plaintiff may not assert Title VII claims based on events taking place more than 300 days prior to her filing a charge with the EEOC or other local employment discrimination agency. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); Butts v. Dep't of Hous. Pres. & Dev., 990 F.2d 1397, 1401 (2d Cir. 1993). Plaintiff filed her charge with the CCHR on October 8, 2002. (Bogni Decl. Ex. N.) Therefore, this Court must ...


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