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Holder v. City of Yonkers

June 7, 2006

JOHN HOLDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF YONKERS,*FN1 THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF YONKERS, LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL, AND IVAN TOPER, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRINCIPAL OF LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lisa Margaret Smith Chief United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff John Holder (herein, "Plaintiff"), an African-American male teacher in the Yonkers Public School system, commenced the present action against his employer, The Board of Education of the City of Yonkers (herein, "Defendant"),*fn2 pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 for alleged racial discrimination. See Docket #1, Plaintiff's Complaint (herein, "Compl."). In particular, Plaintiff interposes four causes of action against the Defendant, including claims of a hostile workplace environment, retaliation, unlawful discrimination, and a supplemental state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Compl. at ¶¶22-29. The parties have consented to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c) for all purposes, including resolution of dispositive motions and trial. Presently before this Court is the Defendant's motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety. See Docket #10, Defendant's Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted in toto, and the Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The parties do not dispute the following basic facts that are material to a decision in this case.*fn3

The Plaintiff began working as a social studies teacher in the Yonkers Public School system in September of 2000. See Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Fact (herein, "Def's 56.1 Statement") at ¶1. Plaintiff initially worked as a teacher at Emerson Junior High School, id. at ¶3, and subsequently accepted a transfer to Lincoln High School, see id., where he is currently employed, id. at ¶4. Plaintiff has received annual step increases in his salary, id. at ¶¶6, 10, currently enjoys medical coverage provided by his employer, id. at ¶7, and is a participant in the New York State pension system, id. at ¶8.

During the course of his employment Plaintiff received several annual evaluations and several periodic formal observations conducted by a member of either Emerson's or Lincoln's administrative personnel. See Def's 56.1 Statement at ¶¶12, 16, 17; see also Def's 56.1 Statement, Ex. D, E and F (Plaintiff's 2002-03, 2003-04, and 2004-05 annual evaluations); Plaintiff's 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Fact (herein, "Pl's 56.1 Statement"), Ex. 14, 17, and 20 (formal observation evaluations of Plaintiff dated March 2004, June 2004, and November 2004). Both the formal observation evaluation and the annual evaluation must be rendered either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and both provide narrative sections allowing the administrator conducting the review to offer his or her comments to the teacher being observed.

In particular, the Plaintiff received several satisfactory formal observation evaluations during his time at Emerson Junior High School, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex.3-5 and 7-8, a satisfactory annual evaluation for the 2000-01 school year, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 6, and another satisfactory annual evaluation for the 2001-02 school year, which was the Plaintiff's first full year as a teacher at Lincoln High School, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex.10. Although all of these evaluations were rendered satisfactory, the Plaintiff's 2001-02 annual evaluation noted that the Plaintiff had "a few difficulties [with his classroom management]." See Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 10 at p. 1.

Beginning with the Plaintiff's 2002-03 annual evaluation, each of the Plaintiff's subsequent evaluations sounded in a more critical tone. See Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 12. Almost all of the narrative sections in the Plaintiff's 2002-03 annual evaluation contain suggestions about how the Plaintiff could improve his teaching style, the substance of his classroom material, or his interpersonal relations with co-workers and superiors, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 12 at p. 1 ("[Plaintiff] needs to plan and use a variety of additional teaching strategies that will more successfully engage his students . . . ."); ("[Plaintiff's] instructional delivery often fails to engage his students [sic] interest."); ("[Plaintiff] does not demonstrate an understanding of the develpmental [sic] stages of students."); ("[Plaintiff] has difficulty working collaboratively with others, particularly [sic] the school administration."). Additionally, the Principal, Mr. Toper, noted that the "[Plaintiff's] classroom teaching has been in need of improvement and has not been satisfactory for most of this year." See Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 12 at p. 2. Thereafter, Plaintiff received an unsatisfactory formal observation review in March of 2004, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 14, an unsatisfactory annual review for the 2003-04 academic year, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 16, an unsatisfactory formal observation in June of 2004, see Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 17, and an unsatisfactory annual review for the 2004-05 academic school year, see Def's 56.1 Statement, Ex. F. Each of these unsatisfactory evaluations contained criticisms of the Plaintiff's efforts to engage student participation during class, see Def's 56.1 Statement, Ex. E, and of his inability to plan and deliver classroom lessons, see Def's 56.1 Statement, Ex. F; see also Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 17.

Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (herein, "EEOC") on September 14, 2004. See Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 19. In his EEOC complaint, the Plaintiff alleged discrimination based upon his race, color, and age in violation of Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.*fn4 Id. In the narrative attached to his EEOC complaint, the Plaintiff argued that he had become the target of a campaign of retaliation and harassment after he refused to offer his own opinion of a co-worker's pedagogy at Principal Toper's request and after he informed the Lincoln High School administration that many of Lincoln High School's remedial students were not receiving the necessary resources to aid their learning as required by several federal laws. See Pl's 56.1 Statement, Ex. 19. Plaintiff argues in his Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Defendant's motion for summary judgment that he "was called into the principals [sic] Quizzada's office and informed that he knew that the plaintiff had filed an EEOC complaint, [and] 'that he would be personally supervising the plaintiff.' " See Docket #16, Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition (herein, "Mem. in Opp.") at p. 15. After receiving his right to sue letter on September 30, 2004, the Plaintiff commenced the present suit alleging claims of a hostile workplace environment, retaliation, unlawful discrimination and a supplemental state law claim for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

For the following reasons, I conclude that the Plaintiff has failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact on any of his claims and that the instant motion for summary judgment should issue.

DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard and ...


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