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Haydel v. Avex Industries

March 30, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R. Homer U.S. Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Emmett J. Haydel ("Haydel"), a former employee of defendant Avex Industries ("Avex"),*fn1 brought this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), alleging that Avex unlawfully discriminated against him because of his race and retaliated against him because he complained of the discrimination. See Compl. (Docket No. 1). Presently pending is Avex's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b). Docket No. 39. Haydel opposes the motion. Docket No. 42. For the reasons which follow, Avex's motion is granted.

I. Background

The facts are presented in the light most favorable to Haydel as the non-moving party. See Ertman v. United States, 165 F. 3d 204, 206 (2d Cir. 1999).

Avex was formed in 1989 by Jack Springer, its President and Chief Executive Officer, to sell tanning equipment from its principal location in Hudson Falls, New York. In 1992, Haydel, an African-American, was hired by Springer to work as a salesperson at Avex. Springer Dep. (Docket No. 39, Ex. F) at 6-8, 22-23. Springer had previously hired Haydel on two separate occasions to work at other companies owned by Springer, the first in 1974 and the second in the 1980s. 19-20. In 1999, Haydel was promoted to national sales manager at Avex. 33-34. Because of this promotion, Haydel became responsible for supervising eight to ten employees, including Debbie Meader. Haydel Dep. (Docket No. 39, Ex. B) at 58. Shortly after his promotion, Haydel began experiencing difficulties with Meader and attempted to have her dismissed from Avex. Id. at 60-65.

On or about July 1, 2001, Meader quit her position at Avex after complaining about persistent difficulties in working with Haydel. Brousseau Aff. (Docket No. 39, Ex. G). Shortly thereafter, Meader retained an attorney and sent two letters to Springer detailing her claims of sex discrimination and harassment against Haydel. Id. at Exs. I & J. However, in February 2002, Meader's complaints against Avex and Haydel were resolved and she returned to work, but at the Glens Falls office away from Haydel. Id., Ex. O at 10-14, 24; Ex. F at 96-102. When Haydel was advised that Meader would be returning to Avex, he made his opposition known to Springer and Anthony Ianniello, a corporate officer of Avex. Id. at Ex. M; Haydel Dep. at 88-89.

By letter dated February 17, 2002, Haydel issued "two non-negotiable proposals" that either Avex dismisses D. Meader or me, [or] Avex keeps D. Meader in Glens Falls and pays me my $10,000 bonus for the year 2000 [,] . . . Avex will increase my pay $192 per week starting February 22nd 2002 [and] . . . D. Meader will have to recant her charges in a letter acceptable to me.

Id. at Ex. C. Springer responded to Haydel's demands by accepting the first choice, Haydel's dismissal. Id. at 3. Soon after, Springer suggested that Haydel return to Avex. Springer Dep. at 114-15. However, no agreement was ever reached and Haydel informed Gary Richardson, an Avex employee, that he had found another job and would not be returning to Avex. Id. at 116.

On April 26, 2002, Haydel faxed a letter to Ianniello which outlined his plans to take legal action against Avex for race discrimination. Brousseau Aff. at Ex. D. On or about May 3, 2002, Haydel filed a complaint of race discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("DHR"). Brousseau Aff. at Ex. E. In the DHR complaint, Haydel alleged three separate incidents of race discrimination. First, in October 2001, a fake rat with "negroid features" was found outside Avex with the words "To Emmett on Bosses Day" written on it. Second, Haydel discovered a letter in another employee's file that mocked his education. Third, Haydel "was not given a key to the door for the Lotion Department ... yet others, whose need was less than mine, and who were white, were given keys." Id. at 1-2.

After investigation, the DHR dismissed Haydel's complaint. Def. Statement of Material Facts at ¶ 64. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") adopted DHR's findings and issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter to Haydel that gave him until March 19, 2003 to file suit. Id. at ¶ 65. On November 19, 2002, Haydel filed a second DHR complaint alleging that on two separate occasions, Avex retaliated against him for filing a complaint with DHR. Brousseau Aff. at Ex. S. This complaint was also dismissed. Def. Statement of Material Facts at ¶ 71. This action followed.

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

A motion for summary judgment may be granted if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact if supported by affidavits or other suitable evidence and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The moving party has the burden to show the absence of disputed material facts by informing the court of portions of pleadings, depositions, and affidavits which support the motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Facts are material if they may affect the outcome of the case as determined by substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). All ambiguities are resolved and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Skubel v. Fuoroli, 113 F.3d 330, 334 (2d Cir. 1997).

The party opposing the motion must set forth facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. The non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some doubt or speculation as to the true nature of the facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). It must be apparent that no rational finder of fact could find in favor of the non-moving party for a court to grant a motion for summary judgment. Gallo v. ...

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