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Godfrey v. New York City Transit Authority

August 25, 2006

DARRYL GODFREY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Darryl Godfrey brings this action against the New York City Transit Authority ("TA") pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 32 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq.; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; and the New York State Executive Law § 296 ("New York State Human Rights Law") alleging that he was discriminated against when his application for a position as a revenue collecting agent was put on medical hold for twelve weeks due to a hearing impairment which is correctable by a hearing aid. Presently before this court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

Background

Plaintiff applied for the position of revenue collecting agent with the TA in the year 2000. (Levy Decl. Ex. C 27--31.) A revenue collecting agent is an armed security guard whose duties include collection and transportation of revenue and revenue related items, driving armored cars engaged in the transportation of such revenue, and providing security for TA workers engaged in the repair of Metro-Card vending machines. (Levy Decl. Ex. C 12--13.)

Plaintiff was interviewed by Henry D'Amato who found plaintiff qualified to proceed through the other phases of the application process. (Levy Decl. Ex. C 28--30.) At the time of the interview, Mr. D'Amato was aware that the plaintiff wore a hearing aid. (Levy Decl. Ex. C 34--35; Ex. D 63.)

Plaintiff claims that the hearing aid corrects his hearing impairment to the extent that he can perform all the essential functions of revenue collecting agent. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 125--126.) Plaintiff has stated that he has worked as a security guard, armed courier, air courier, and driver and, since the filing of this motion, has been employed as a security guard for the Port Authority. (Levy Decl. Ex. d 21--30.) Plaintiff asserts that wearing a hearing aid has never interfered with his ability to do any of these jobs. (Levy Decl. Ex. D at 125.)

After D'Amato interviewed plaintiff, TA supervisor Valerie Blakes helped plaintiff apply for a New York City pistol license. (Levy Decl. Ex. C. 30; 34--35; Ex. D 65.) After two months had elapsed without word from the TA, plaintiff contacted Ms. Blakes who informed him that there was a problem with his pistol application. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 67.) Apparently, the plaintiff, in his attachments to his application, alluded to being terminated from a prior job based upon an accusation that he had engaged in employee theft. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 67--71.) Both Mr. D'Amato and Ms. Blakes met with the plaintiff for a second interview and asked him to submit a letter explaining the circumstances of his previous termination. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 71--76.)

Approximately one month after plaintiff received his pistol license, he received a letter from the TA instructing him to appear at the TA medical department to provide a urine sample for a drug screening. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 79--82.) After plaintiff passed the drug test, the TA instructed him to return to the medical department to complete his medical examination. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 83.) Plaintiff appeared for this examination and was given a variety of tests which included a hearing exam. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 83--85.) Since the TA does not have the equipment to perform a hearing test for an individual wearing a hearing aid, the TA informed the plaintiff that he needed to have his own audiologist conduct the hearing test (Levy Decl. Ex. I 23--34; M; D 86--89; 95--96). On March 1, 2001, the plaintiff was placed on medical hold until the results of his aided hearing test could be evaluated to determine whether he met the medical standards for a revenue collecting agent. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 83; 89.)

At the time plaintiff was applying for the revenue collecting agent position, the TA was in the process of developing a job profile detailing the physical requirements needed for the position. (Levy Decl. Ex. I 14--15.) On March 5, 2001, plaintiff brought the results of his aided hearing test to the TA medical center. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 101.) However, despite the results of the aided hearing test, the plaintiff was kept on medical hold while the TA Medical Department determined whether it needed to conduct a practical field test (done in an actual work setting) to determine whether the plaintiff's hearing impairment would create a danger to him or the public or affect his ability to perform the duties of a revenue collecting agent. (Levy Decl. Ex. I 27--28; Clarke-Belgrave Aff. 4--5.) On May 24, 2001, after being on medical hold for approximately twelve weeks, the TA concluded that the job profile for a revenue collecting agent was not likely to be approved soon and therefore deemed the plaintiff medically qualified on May 24, 2001. (Ex. G.)

Although plaintiff was deemed medically qualified, he was required to take a second drug test because the first test was no longer valid-thirty days had passed since it was conducted. (Levy Decl. Ex. I 54.) The TA left the plaintiff several telephone messages in late May and early June notifying him that he needed to report to the TA medical center for a second drug test. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 115--117; Ex. F.) The TA also sent plaintiff a letter on June 12, 2001 requesting that he report to the TA medical center on June 25, 2001. (Levy Decl. Ex. H; Ex. D 118--120.) The plaintiff failed to respond. In early September, plaintiff was again contacted by the TA and was asked to report to take another drug test. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 121--124.) However, despite the efforts of the TA to conduct a second urine test, the plaintiff failed to show up and did not try to contract the TA. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 117--123.) At no time was the plaintiff ever told that he was medically unfit for a position with the TA. (Levy Decl. Ex. D 125.)

On June 18, 2001, plaintiff filed a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR") alleging that the TA discriminated against him based on his hearing disability (Levy Decl. Ex. B.) On May 15, 2002, the case was dismissed by the SDHR, at the plaintiff's request, for administrative convenience. (Levy Decl. Ex. E.) On October 24, 2002, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued plaintiff a right to sue letter. (Levy Decl. ¶ 21.) On April 8, 2003, the plaintiff filed this action under the ADA, Title VII, and the New York States Human Rights Law alleging disability discrimination. (Levy Decl. Ex. A.) Discussion

Summary Judgment is appropriate "where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). The court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158--159, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L. Ed 2d 142 (1970)). "The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247--248.

Although Defendant's summary judgment motion is unopposed and the facts stated in the Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 statements are deemed admitted for the purpose of this motion, the moving party must still meet its burden of demonstrating that no material issue of fact exists. Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970)). Additionally, each of the facts in Defendant's 56.1 statement must also be followed by citation to evidence which would be admissible, as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (e). See also, E.D.N.Y. Local Civ. R. 56.1 (d). "Thus, it is clear that even when a non-moving party chooses the perilous path of failing to submit a response to a summary judgment motion, the district court may not grant the motion without first examining the moving party's submission to determine if it has met its burden of demonstrating that no material issue of fact remains for trial." Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d Cir. 1998). "Moreover, in determining whether the moving party has met this burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue for trial, the district court may not rely solely on the statements of undisputed facts contained in the moving party's Rule 56.1 statement." ...


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