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Prince v. Madison Square Garden

April 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, D.J.


Defendants Madison Square Garden, L.P. (the "Garden"), Jason Vogel ("Vogel"), and Ryan Halkett ("Halkett")*fn1 (collectively the "Defendants") have moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., to dismiss the First, Second, and Third causes of action against the Garden and the Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth causes of action against Halkett set forth in the Amended Complaint of plaintiff Courtney Prince ("Prince" or the "Plaintiff"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

Prior Proceedings

The prior proceedings in this action were set forth in the opinion of this Court of May 6, 2005, Prince v. Cablevision Systems Corporation, No. 04 Civ. 8151 (RWS), 2005 WL 1060373 (S.D.N.Y. May 6, 2005) (the "May 6 Opinion"), familiarity with which is assumed.

Following the entry of the May 6 Opinion, Prince filed her Amended Complaint. The First, Second, and Third causes of action allege claims arising out of a hostile work environment under federal, state, and city laws respectively. The Second and Third causes of action also allege a claim against Halkett as well as the Garden. The Fifth and Sixth causes of action allege that Halkett aided and abetted the retaliation alleged to have been committed against Prince in violation of New York State and New York City law.

Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint on June 6, 2005. This motion was heard and marked fully submitted on September 7, 2005.

The Parties

Prince is a professional figure skater who was employed as a member and captain of the Ranger City Skaters (the "Skaters"). The Skaters are ice skating cheerleaders of the New York Rangers (the "Rangers"), a professional hockey team. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 1).

The Garden is a limited partnership, and the former employer of Prince. (See id. ¶¶ 17, 21).

Vogel is an employee of the Garden and deputy director of public relations for the Rangers. (See id. ¶ 23).

Halkett, who was Prince's immediate supervisor, is employed by the Garden as the director of game-day presentation for the Rangers. (See id. ¶ 22).

The Facts

The following facts are drawn from the allegations contained in the Complaint. All well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true for the purposes of this motion. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2002). The following statements do not constitute findings of the Court.

Prince was hired by the Garden in the fall of 2002 to be a member of the Skaters, a group which was formed in 2002. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 21). She was made captain of the team in August 2003. (See id. ¶ 25). In this capacity, Prince's duties included communicating to the Skaters the directives of management. (See id.).

During her employment as captain of the Skaters, a period of less than six months, from August 2003 until she was fired on January 22, 2004, (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 28), Prince has alleged that she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment, that the Garden and her supervisors Halkett and Vogel, as well as unnamed Garden managers, treated her and the other Skaters not as employees whose job it was to work hard and perform with excellence as skaters on the ice at Ranger hockey games, but as sex objects who were expected to be large breasted, sexually alluring, to accompany or be available to Garden managers and others at after-hours parties and events, who were subjected to inappropriate and unwelcome sexual conversation and physical contact from Garden managers. Prince has alleged sixteen examples of this sexually hostile work environment:

! The Garden and Halkett required that the Skaters, including Prince, be sexually alluring. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(a).

! Halkett told Prince that a Skater named Trina was too small breasted and directed Prince to tell Trina to stuff her bra. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(a).

! Halkett took steps to ensure that the Skaters did not get fat. Am. Compl. ¶ 51. ! Halkett made unwelcome sexual remarks to a Skater named Amea Bunting regarding her sex life and his. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(c).

! Halkett made disparaging remarks about the sexual morals of a Skater named Bridie. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(d).

! Halkett pressed Prince to tell him who the "wild girls" were among the Skaters. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(e).

! Vogel made unwelcome sexual advances to Prince and sexually assaulted her, and when the Garden and Halkett learned that Prince had complained about it, they fired her. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 33, 38.

! Vogel made unwelcome sexual advances to other Garden employees and the Garden is aware of such advances. Am. Compl. ¶ 28(f).

! The Garden managers including Halkett required some of the Skaters, including Prince, to fraternize with the Garden ...

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