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Mincey v. University of Rochester

November 2, 2006

LAURA MINCEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER, STRONG MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, AND 1199 UNION DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Laura Mincey brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, ("ADEA"), against The University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital(hereinafter "Strong" or "the Hospital") claiming that she was discriminated against by the defendant on the basis of her age, sex, color, and religion. Plaintiff also alleges that she was unlawfully retaliated against by the defendant. Although plaintiff originally filed this action pro se, I appointed counsel to represent the plaintiff and assist her with her case.

By Decision and Order dated July 23, 2003, I dismissed plaintiff's claims of race, color and gender discrimination, as well as her claims of retaliation, but allowed plaintiff to proceed on her claims of age and religious discrimination.*fn1 Thereafter, on September 16, 2004, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint claiming that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race, age, religion, and skin color.

Defendant moves for summary judgment with respect to all of the plaintiff's remaining discrimination claims. Strong contends that the plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of age, race, or religious discrimination, and that even if she has, she has failed to rebut Strong's legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating her employment: to wit, that she had struck a co-employee during an argument. Although Mincey concedes that she did make physical contact with the employee, she contends, inter alia, that Strong discriminated against her with respect to the investigation of the incident, and by failing to fire the other, younger employee involved in the altercation, whom she claims struck her first.

For the reasons set forth below, I find that plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of discrimination with respect to her age, race, skin color, or religion. Further, even if plaintiff were able to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination, I find that she has failed to rebut Strong's legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing her.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Laura Mincey worked for the University of Rochester as a Housekeeper or Building Service Worker from September 1997 to February 23, 1999. Prior to her employment as a Housekeeper, plaintiff worked for the University in other capacities, including as an employee of the Food and Nutrition Department.

On February 15, 1999, Mincey was involved in an argument with two co-employees, Anna Klauck-Warren ("Klauck-Warren") and Wayne Montgomery ("Montgomery"). Montgomery, who was a shift leader, accused Mincey of punching Klauck-Warren's time card, even though Klauck-Warren had not yet arrived at work. According to the plaintiff, Montgomery was often hostile to her, and often used derogatory terms when addressing her, including calling her an "old bitch" and an "old hag."

When Klauck-Warren arrived at the scene, the three engaged in an altercation during which Mincey struck Montgomery. Although plaintiff admits that she "made physical contact" with Montgomery, she claims that she struck him in response to Montgomery first striking her. Defendant denies that Montgomery ever struck Mincey.

The Hospital conducted an investigation of the incident, and determined, based on the statements of the persons involved in the incident and an eyewitness, that Mincey had stuck Montgomery, and that Montgomery had not struck Mincey. Following the investigation, the Hospital suspended Montgomery for two days, and suspended Klauck-Warren for three days for their roles in the altercation. The Hospital terminated Mincey's employment on grounds that she had physically struck a fellow employee. Mincey's union filed a grievance with respect to the termination of her employment, but thereafter declined to arbitrate the matter.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if 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." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir. 1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court ...


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