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Uddin v. City of New York

April 12, 2006


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


The City of New York (the "City"), the New York City Human Resources Administration ("HRA"), Director Janice Scott ("Scott"), and Supervisor Roy Francis ("Francis") (collectively, the "Defendants"), have moved pursuant to Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P., for summary judgment dismissing the complaint of plaintiff Jamal Uddin ("Uddin" or the "Plaintiff") alleging that the Defendants retaliated against him in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983"), the New York State Executive Law § 296 ("NYHRL"), and the New York City Human Rights Law ("CHRL"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion of the Defendants is granted, and the complaint dismissed.

Prior Proceedings

Uddin filed his complaint alleging retaliation in violation of § 1983, the NYHRL, and the CHRL on June 5, 2003. Discovery proceeded.

Uddin's claims of retaliation are based on the following allegations: (1) Defendants prepared false disciplinary charges against Plaintiff, resulting in his non-selection for supervisor positions, and also resulting in the imposition of a fine of three days pay; (2) Defendants denied Plaintiff's requests for necessary resources, such as a larger work station with a working telephone, from March 2002 until his transfer to the Division of Shelter Services on January 11, 2004; (3) Defendants served Plaintiff with baseless disciplinary and counseling memoranda; (4) Defendants denied Plaintiff promotional opportunities; and (5) Defendants unlawfully removed Plaintiff's name from the civil service list for Supervisor I positions, thereby depriving him of promotional opportunities over a six-month period in 2003.

Defendants moved for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, on March 4, 2005. The motion was marked fully submitted on August 25, 2005.

The Facts

The facts are set forth in the Defendants' Local Rule

56.1 Statement, Plaintiff's Statement of Contested Material Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, and Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Contested Material Facts. They are not disputed except as indicated.

On or about March 3, 1986, Uddin began his employment as a case worker with the New York City Special Services for Children, which is now known as New York City Administration for Children's Services ("ACS").

On July 23, 1999, Uddin filed a lawsuit against the City and ACS in which he alleged discrimination because of national origin and retaliation. Specifically, Uddin claimed that his former ACS supervisors discriminated against him, retaliated against him when he complained of the discrimination, and created a hostile work environment. See Uddin v. New York City, No. 99 Civ. 5843 (GEL), 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19373 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 28, 2001) ("Uddin I").

At about the same time that Uddin filed his lawsuit in Uddin I, he testified in his deposition that he, along with approximately 369 former ACS employees, were not selected for the new title of Child Protective Specialist, and that as a result he was transferred to HRA. Thereafter, the court granted Defendants' summary judgment as to Plaintiff's retaliation claim and ordered a trial on Plaintiff's discrimination claims. The trial in Uddin I took place between August 8 and 14, 2001, and at the conclusion, the jury returned a verdict in Plaintiff's favor.

Uddin began employment with HRA's HIV/AIDS Services Administration ("HASA") located at its Brooklyn Greenwood Center on August 2, 1999 as a tenured case manager. He was employed in HASA from August 2, 1999 until January 11, 2004 as a case manager, at which time he was promoted and transferred to another division within HRA.

He was responsible for reviewing financial, housing, and individual needs of the HIV clients serviced by HRA and initially worked under George Smith and Janet Ortiz, both supervisors at HASA's Greenwood location.

On or about September 5, 2000, Uddin requested and was granted a transfer to HRA's Coney Island Center. On September 14, 2000, Uddin requested permission to return to the Greenwood location because his commute to HRA's Coney Island location was difficult. Scott, the Director of HASA at the Greenwood location, had no objection to Plaintiff returning to the Greenwood location and approved his return to HASA's Greenwood location.

Uddin admits that he testified that Scott, the Director of HASA at the Greenwood Center, had no objection to his return to the Greenwood Center. However, Uddin disputes that the decision to approve his request to return to the Greenwood Center was made by Scott and that he directed his request to Scott.

Uddin testified that in or about December 2000, upon his return to the Greenwood location, he reported to Francis, then a Supervisor I, and was supervised by Francis from December 2000 until July 2002.

Thereafter, Uddin was supervised by Ronald Burns, Janet Ortiz, Glynis Perry, and Bertin Duphrezin, all supervisors at the Greenwood Center location against whom no charges of retaliation are made.

Uddin testified that Scott retaliated against him because she was: (1) rude to him, (2) told Francis to document his work performance, (3) had disciplinary charges brought against him, (4) denied him a desk with a telephone line, and (5) denied him the supervisor of his choice. In his affidavit in opposition Uddin has claimed that his claim of retaliation against Scott is based solely on the facts outlined in paragraph 16 of Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement.

According to Defendants, Uddin testified that Francis retaliated against him by issuing him false memoranda on October 22, 2001 and March 13, 2002. In his affidavit in opposition Uddin has disputed that his testimony limited his claims of retaliation against Francis to the issuance of these two memoranda. Uddin also testified that Francis issued him a meritless disciplinary memorandum on June 15, 2001, alleging that Plaintiff was absent from the office on June 13, 2001; failed to approve his field visit time in 2002; warned Plaintiff on or about October 12, 2001, "you better watch out, they are going to get you;" referred to Plaintiff as "the troublemaker" in May of 2002; stated to Plaintiff soon after disciplinary charges were brought against him that, "It does not matter if you defeat the charges, even if you vindicate yourself in a few years time, a lot can happen in that time. The damage is already done;" and issued Plaintiff unwarranted disciplinary memoranda.

Defendants contend that Uddin testified during his deposition that he did not receive any disciplinary action based on memoranda issued by Francis. Uddin disputes that he made such a concession at his deposition. In Plaintiff's deposition testimony that is referenced by Defendants, Plaintiff testified both that he did not grieve Francis' issuance of the false memoranda and that he did not receive any disciplinary action as a result of a complaint made by a client, Howard P., on July 31, 2001.

Scott testified that she was aware that Uddin had brought a lawsuit against the City in August 2001 but did not know the nature of the lawsuit or that it was based on allegations of discrimination. In his affidavit in opposition Uddin concedes that Scott so testified, but disputes that Scott was actually unaware of Plaintiff's discrimination action. According to Uddin, Scott was aware of his discrimination claims prior to October, 2001.

Scott further testified that she first saw newspaper clippings concerning Uddin's lawsuit posted in the cafeteria in October or November 2001, after she had requested that disciplinary charges be brought against Plaintiff. In his affidavit in opposition Uddin also recognizes that Scott testified first seeing newspaper clippings concerning Plaintiff's lawsuit posted in the cafeteria in October or November of 2001, but disputes that she testified that she noticed the clippings after she had requested that disciplinary charges be brought against Plaintiff.

Francis testified in his deposition that he was aware of Plaintiff's lawsuit against ACS but did not know that Uddin had claimed any kind of discrimination. In his affidavit in opposition, Uddin disputes that Francis was unaware of Plaintiff's discrimination lawsuit. Francis further testified that he saw a newspaper article, dated September 7, 2001, concerning Plaintiff's "bias" lawsuit in the lunchroom but did not read the article. Uddin admitted that Francis was not involved in the decision to bring disciplinary charges against him.

During Uddin's employment at HASA, the Greenwood office was renovated and as such HASA was relocated to a different floor at the same location, and all employees were displaced. Uddin testified that upon being displaced, he was assigned to a desk with a working telephone for some time; however, he was reassigned to a different desk in 2002 which did not have a working telephone. According to Uddin, he was assigned to a desk without a telephone from March 2002 until January 11, 2004, when he transferred to the Division of Shelter Services as a Supervisor I.

Scott testified that she first received a complaint from Uddin concerning the lack of an operating phone line on July 30, 2003. Uddin disputes that Scott's testimony is correct. According to him, Scott was first informed of the fact that Plaintiff's work station lacked a working telephone soon after Plaintiff was moved to that work station in or about March 2002.

Defendants dispute Uddin's assertion that as a result of not having his own telephone, he was unable to do his job or that his career at HRA was negatively affected. Uddin states that in view of Uddin's direct interaction with HASA clients, the lack of a working telephone interfered with Uddin's ability to fully perform his duties.

Scott testified that during the renovation, all employees at Greenwood were sharing phone lines and Uddin had the opportunity to move to another desk with an operating telephone. Uddin disputes that other employees were sharing phone lines when he was assigned to a cubicle that lacked a telephone.

According to him, the relocation occurred in February of 2001, and the HRA employees who were relocated shared telephone lines until April of 2001. Uddin was moved to a cubicle with no telephone access in or about March of 2002.

Uddin testified that he was not aware if other employees also complained about the lack of telephones, but asserted in deposition that there were available work stations with telephone access and that Scott decided not to assign Uddin to those work stations.

Uddin also alleges that he was retaliated against with the issuance of unwarranted disciplinary memoranda. Uddin testified that on September 14, 2001 he, as a junior union delegate, Hector Molina, Denise Warren, Rafael Garcia and Stephen Akiano, other union delegates, discussed holding a vigil in memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001. Uddin alleges that it was Molina who initially suggested that they introduce the union delegation at the meeting.

Uddin testified that on that same day all of the union delegates requested permission from Scott to hold a prayer vigil at 3:00 P.M., which would include introducing the new union delegation. Scott permitted them to hold a vigil, but informed the delegates, including Uddin, that she would not permit them to introduce the new union delegation members at this prayer vigil.

Uddin disputes that Scott instructed the union members not to introduce the new union delegation at the prayer vigil. Uddin testified that Scott expressed her discomfort with union members introducing the new union delegation, and that thereafter Molina stated that they would simply identify those present at the meeting.

Scott testified in her deposition that she authorized the union delegates to hold a prayer vigil and that she did not authorize them to hold an emergency staff meeting or to distribute a flyer.

Garcia declared that despite this directive, Uddin alone insisted that he distribute flyers, which set forth the union delegates' "original agenda" which was to introduce the new union delegates at the prayer vigil. According to Uddin, it was not he alone that insisted that he distribute the flyers setting forth the union delegates' "original agenda." He stated that Molina was the one who insisted that flyers be made and distributed, notwithstanding the fact Uddin communicated to Molina that he was not in favor of such a flyer. Uddin also disputes that Garcia testified that the "original agenda" of the meeting was to introduce new union delegates only. Garcia testified that the meeting's "original agenda" was to hold a prayer vigil and to introduce the new union members.

Uddin admitted during his deposition that Garcia and Molina did not feel comfortable with introducing the new union delegates during the prayer vigil, but disputes that Molina was never in favor of the introduction. According to Uddin, after learning of Garcia and Molina's discomfort with the introduction, Uddin revised the flyers, omitting any reference to the union delegate introduction.

During Uddin's deposition, he admitted that he made a flyer for the vigil and gave it to others for distribution. Uddin disputes that it was his idea to make and distribute the flyer and that he testified that it was Molina who "insisted" that Uddin made a flyer on his computer for distribution.

Garcia declared that he refused to distribute the flyer. The flyer stated that Local 371 was holding an emergency staff meeting on September 14, 2001 at 3:00 P.M. and at such meeting the new union delegation would be introduced. Uddin testified that he did not distribute any of the flyers and was not aware of whether the original or a revised flyer was distributed.

Uddin testified that while he was revising the flyer to delete any reference to the introduction of the new union delegation, Scott asked him to come to her office for a meeting, and that he went to Scott's office with the revised flyer with Molina and Garcia. Uddin disputes that Scott made this request in a professional manner and instead contends that Scott shouted at him to come to her office. Uddin further testified that upon going to Scott's office she closed the door and loudly told the delegates, "I run the office. You don't."

Scott testified that when all of the union delegates entered her office, Molina and Garcia informed her that Uddin had created the flyer. Uddin, however, mentioned to her that he had revised the flyer so as to omit mention of the introduction of the new union delegation.

Scott testified that she only authorized Uddin, Molina, and Garcia to hold a prayer vigil and that she "did not agree for someone to put a flyer out saying it was an emergency staff meeting or the introduction of the new delegates" and that she had an issue with the delegates calling the prayer vigil an emergency staff meeting, introducing new union delegates, and issuing a flyer. Uddin disputes that Scott only authorized him, Molina, and Garcia to hold a prayer vigil and also disputes that Scott's testimony in this regard is accurate. According to Uddin, ...

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