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Garone v. United Parcel Service

June 27, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glasser, United States Senior District Judge



Linda Sardina*fn1 ("Plaintiff"), formerly an employee of United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS" or "Defendant"), brings Title VII, NYSHRL, and NYCHRL claims against UPS, Stan Scigowski and Thomas Dullahan (collectively "Defendants") for creating a hostile work environment and retaliating against her when she complained about sexual harassment. Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.


I. Plaintiff's Work Assignments at UPS

In November 1993, UPS hired Sardina as a part-time "tracing clerk." (56.1 ¶3). She worked at UPS's Foster Avenue Facility in Brooklyn which was organized into five "centers": Times Plaza, Kensington, Canarsie, Marine Park and Fort Hamilton, each of which served a specific geographic area. (56.1 ¶ 3; Scigowski Tr. 12). Each of the centers had a center manager. The center manager in turn reported to the division manager, who was responsible for the entire Foster Avenue facility. (56.1 ¶ 4). The division manager until January 1999 was Bruce Pace. In January 1999, Cindy Miller replaced Pace. (56.1 ¶ 4).

In 1996 Sardina was assigned to the Kensington Center, where Bill Burgess was the center manager. (Pl. Tr. 26). Upon Sardina's request, Burgess arranged for her transfer to the Times Plaza center,*fn2 where in January 1997 she was promoted to a full-time position as an operations management specialist ("OMS"). (Pl. Tr. 68-69, 56.1 ¶3). The full-time OMS monitors the interaction of drivers and customers by dispatching on-call air packages, answering complaints from customers, and supervising the part-time OMSs in the center. (56.1 ¶ 3). Stan Scigowski became the Times Plaza center manager in April 1997. (56.1 ¶ 4). And among Sardina's co-workers at the Times Plaza center was Thomas Dullahan, who became an "on-car supervisor" in the fall of 1997. (Pl. Tr. 262). The on-car supervisors supervised the drivers and reported directly to the center manager. (56.1 ¶ 5) Sardina worked as a full-time OMS in the Times Plaza center until October 1998. (Id.). In October 1998, she complained to Pace that she was unhappy at the Times Plaza center. Pace reassigned her to the Kensington center. (Pl. Tr. 55-58, 123, 280-81). After reporting to the Kensington Center for one day, however, she suffered an emotional breakdown and left work on short term disability. (Id.). Sardina had been receiving psychological and psychiatric treatment since 1996, when she had endured a traumatic divorce from an abusive husband. (Pl. Tr 49-58). She acknowledges that in the months leading up to her October 1998 emotional breakdown she had been regularly abusing prescription anti-depressants. (Pl. Tr. 49-58).

In January 1999, Sardina returned to work against her doctor's advice. (Pl. Tr. 344). She was assigned to the Canarsie center. (56.1 ¶ 22, Pl. Tr. 344). In February 1999, Andy Schwartz became the Canarsie center manager. (Pl. Tr. 344; 347-48). Sardina worked in the Canarsie center for four months, through April 1999, before she suffered another emotional breakdown. She has subsequently been unable to return to work. (Pl. Tr. 207-210, 217-19, 448, 453-54).

II. Plaintiff's Allegations of Harassment at the Times Plaza Center

A. Allegations of Supervisory Harassment

Sardina alleges that the onset of the hostile work environment correlates to Scigowski's arrival as her supervisor and Times Plaza center manager in April 1997. (Pl. Tr. 101). When Scigowski arrived, Sardina had been the full-time OMS at Times Plaza center for three months, during which time there had been two center managers. Under the previous managers, Sardina contends she was given "full reign" in their absence. (Pl. Tr. 104-05). Scigowski, however, exercised tighter control over the office and did not grant her the same authority to supervise employees, schedule employee time off or enforce customer requests for drivers to pick-up packages. (Id. 101-105). Sardina characterized Scigowski's management style as "[h]is way or the highway" not only with her, but also with others who reported to him. (Id. 271).

Sardina alleges Scigowski made certain harassing comments. The first of these comments was Scigowski's use of the term "office bitch." Sardina testified as follows:

A: I was in the computer room by myself. Stan [Scigowski] had given two of the girls off that day. So that left me two people down. So I called Stan from his office, and Mike came out with him, and I said to him, I need help in here. So he turned to Mike Kellerher and he said, come on, Mike, sit down, learn how to be an office bitch.

Q: Did Mr. Kellerher say anything?

A: He was like -- turned red.

Q: And what, if anything, did you say to Mr. Scigowski?

A: I said, are you calling me an office bitch? And he goes, oh, not you, LG. I said, well, then who Stan, the rest of the OMS's in the building? I said, you know, Stan, you're really pushing your luck with me. And Michael just turned around and walked out shaking his head like this.

Q: Do you think that Mr. Scigowski understood that you did not appreciate those words?

A: Yes, he understood I didn't appreciate it.

Q: Did he ever say it again in front of you?

A: No, not in front of me.

Q: Did anyone ever tell you that he used that expression again?

A: No. (Pl. Tr. 273-74).*fn3 Sardina next objected to Scigowski's use of the term "Brooklyn bimbettes" to refer to her and one other woman who worked in the center. Sardina testified thus:

Q: Tell me about the occasion when Mr. Scigowski called you a

Brooklyn bimbette?

A: He didn't call me a Brooklyn bimbette. He referred to myself and [another woman] as those two Brooklyn bimbettes, and not to my face.

Q: How did you become aware that he made this statement?

A: Bill told me. Bill Burgess told me that in a meeting down in Bruce's office that Stan had stated that in front of all the center managers.

And they thought it was a big joke, you know, they were all laughing. And I got annoyed.

And then sometime after that I was walking into the Times Plaza Center and he was in his office, Stan, talking to someone, the door was half ajar, and I overheard him make that comment again, the two Brooklyn bimbettes out there are giving me a hard time.

Q: Do you know who he was speaking to?

A: No.

Q: Did Mr. Scigowski ever call you that to your face?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever overhear Mr. Scigowski use that expression other than the time that you've already told us about?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever become aware of Mr. Scigowski using the Brooklyn bimbette expression again?

A: No . . . (Pl. Tr. 262-63, 264-65).

Sardina also objected to Scigowski's use, on one occasion, of the term "cat fight." Sardina attempted to discipline a female employee who reported to her. The woman called Sardina a "goddamn Sicilian." Scigowski, who was present, allegedly told the two women not to have a "cat fight." (Pl. Tr. 94-95, 125, 356).

In addition to the allegedly harassing comments, Sardina also points to two disagreements she had with Scigowski over managerial decisions. First, during the summer of 1997 the UPS drivers went on strike. (Pl. Tr. 410). In response, UPS ordered certain management employees to make deliveries. (Scigowski Tr. 42). As an OMS, Sardina was not asked to go out on delivery routes, but to remain in the office and continue to perform her duties.*fn4 (Scigowski Tr. 42-3). Sardina, though she acknowledges that she "was not trained" to make deliveries, (Pl. Tr. 410), nonetheless wanted "to go out and deliver and be part of the team just like everybody else." (Pl. Tr. 411). Sardina acknowledges that she was ultimately allowed to go out on a delivery run, but only after she accused Scigowski of being a "chauvinist." (Pl. Tr. 93-4).

Scigowski recalled that a few exceptions were made to the UPS policy that OMSs were to remain in the office; certain OMSs, including Sardina, were allowed to experience making deliveries. (Scigowski Tr. 41-2). He testified:

Q: [H]ow is it that eventually Ms. Garone did actually go out on deliveries during the strike?

A: She asked.

Q: She asked you?

A: She asked -- I believe it was me and I had some conversation with Bruce [Pace], because I know there was one other OMS in the building that we did let go out for the day just because they wanted to know what the experience of delivering the package was.

They had to go with somebody, because they had to be DOT qualified, and that was part of the problem also with who can go out and who couldn't. If you don't have a DOT card, you can't pass the physical, you can't drive the package cars. Anybody who did not fit that criteria had to go out as a passenger. We had a lot more passengers than drivers.

Q: Is that the capacity that Ms. Garone went out, she went out as a passenger?

A: Yes.

Q: There was one other full-time OMS that also went out as a passenger during the strike?

A: Yes.

Q: Who was that person?

A: I believe it was Forestein (phonetic). I think her last name is Alexander. (Scigowski Tr. 43-44).

Next, Sardina alleges that Scigowski harassed her by excluding her from daily meetings with his supervisors to which she believed she should have been invited. The meetings were typically held at 6:00 am, when the supervisors started their day; but Sardina was not required to be at the office before 9:00 am. (Pl. Tr. 442-43). She testified as follows:

A: . . . Now, it's the business manager's responsibility to make sure that his OMS has the knowledge to be able to do this job, but he never shared any of this with me. In the morning meetings with his supervisors I was supposed to be in those meetings because as the day would go on if I didn't know how many -- what drivers had how many pickups or what drivers had how many stops, I didn't know who would be available to send here, there. It was like a clueless thing. He did not let me in on anything . . .

Q: At lunch did he reply to your comment that you ought to be in the morning meetings? Did he say he'd have you come or that for some reason he thought you shouldn't come?

A: Oh, if you want to be there, LG. Not you should be there.


Q: . . . [D]id you begin to attend the morning meetings?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: I just -- I wasn't asked to go in. (Pl. ...

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