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Godineaux v. Laguardia Airport Marriott Hotel

November 6, 2006

EDWIN GODINEAUX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LAGUARDIA AIRPORT MARRIOTT HOTEL AND MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Edwin Godineaux ("Godineaux" or "Plaintiff"), formerly an employee of the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel, brings an action pursuant to N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107 et. seq. (2005) and N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 et. seq., 296 et. seq. (2006) ("NYCHRL" and "NYSHRL") against the LaGuardia Airport Marriott Hotel ("Marriott," "Hotel" or "Defendant") and Marriott Int'l, Inc.*fn1 for creating a hostile work environment that discriminated against him based on his gender, sexual orientation, marital status and race, and retaliating against him when he complained about the discrimination. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Defendant's motion is granted.

FACTS

I. Plaintiff's Employment at the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel

On August 11, 1994 Plaintiff began his employment at the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel as a Loss Prevention Officer ("LPO"), which was the position he maintained throughout his employment there.*fn2 At or about the time he commenced that employment, Plaintiff received training about Marriott's policies and procedures, including Marriott's Progressive Discipline Policy, which provides that employees may be disciplined, suspended, or terminated for stated reasons. On September 23, 1996, Plaintiff received an Associate Assessment form*fn3 completed by David Grant, a supervisor. Plaintiff received generally high scores, but some negative comments as well.

On January 20, 1997, Plaintiff received a written warning regarding his attendance. On May 7, 1997, he received a verbal warning regarding a work performance issue. On July 20, 1997, he received a verbal warning regarding lateness. On August 17, 1997, he received an Associate Assessment form that was completed by David Grant. Plaintiff received some high scores, but several low ones as well, in addition to some negative comments.

On December 10, 1997, Plaintiff received a verbal warning regarding his work performance. On January 21, 1998, he received a written warning regarding work performance issues. On June 3, 1998, he received a written warning regarding lateness. On June 30, 1998, he received a verbal warning regarding lateness. On August 14, 1998, he received a verbal warning regarding work performance. On October 8, 1998, he received an Associate Assessment form that was completed by David Grant. Plaintiff received high scores in most areas, but received some negative comments as well.

II. Plaintiff's Misconduct Leading to his Termination

A. February 26, 1999 Incident

On February 26, 1999, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Plaintiff was asked to escort two other Marriott employees (Allison Samborsky and Gamal Sidarows) to the parking lot. Plaintiff used a Marriott-owned vehicle and drove the wrong way down a one-way street to get to the parking lot. Both Samborsky and Sidarows submitted written statements confirming the incident. Samborsky, an Assistant Restaurant Manager at the Marriott, specifically expressed concern over the incident, stating, "My first concern is that [Plaintiff] did not seem to care that he was driving a company car and representing our hotel with his actions. He also did not take into consideration that he was jeopardizing two associates [sic] well beings. Third of all, he risked injuring any guest or fellow associate that may have been pulling out of the parking lot." (O'Neill aff. Ex. 8). She also indicated that when she asked Plaintiff what he was doing, Plaintiff responded, "I know all of the cops around here. I won't get a ticket." (Id.).

Plaintiff, on the other hand, explained that the lobby where he was stationed was particularly busy at that time, and for the sake of expediency he drove the wrong way down the one-way street. He testified that there were no cars coming at the time. Plaintiff was suspended and was recommended for termination due to his "willful and serious misconduct." (56.1 ¶ 21; O'Neill aff. Ex. 7). Pursuant to Marriott's Guarantee of Fair Treatment Policy, Plaintiff had the choice of appealing this recommendation to a peer review panel, or the general manager of the hotel, Mr. Michael Johnston; he chose to appeal to Mr. Johnston. On his grievance form, Plaintiff wrote, "I do understand of the situation of what I did, and I am wrong about it, but I just wanted to hurry up back in the lobby cause of late check-ins, I did not wanted [sic] anything to happen to anyone in the lobby area, I was not thinking of what I was doing but I am very sorry for what I did, I just wanted to do my duties as a loss Prevention Officer . . . A situation like this will never happen again, I do mean so." (O'Neill aff. Ex. 7). Mr. Johnston decided to allow Plaintiff to return to work and he reduced the disciplinary notice to a written warning.

B. August 25, 1999 Incident

On or about August 25, 1999, at about 12:30 a.m., a car was illegally parked in Marriott's driveway. Plaintiff was asked to have the car towed.*fn4 Instead of having the car towed, he suggested asking the guest who owned the car to move it, as he felt that was the more appropriate procedure, and that that was what Marriott had done in the past in such situations. Eventually, Mr. Johnston was summoned, as was the owner of the car, who subsequently moved the vehicle. Due to this incident, Plaintiff received a verbal warning for insubordinate conduct toward a manager.

C. August 30, 1999 Incident

On or about August 30, 1999, Plaintiff witnessed a Marriott front desk manager go into a hotel bathroom with a prostitute. There is a debate between the parties as to what happened next. Defendant contends that Plaintiff, in violation of his responsibilities as an LPO, discussed the incident with a number of other Marriott employees. Plaintiff testified that he told Mr. Johnston of the incident and that Mr. Johnston collected the security tape that had recorded the incident. Plaintiff testified that he told no one else of the incident. Therefore, he refused to sign the warning issued to him ...


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