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Crayton v. Long Island Railroad

December 28, 2006

JAMES R. CRAYTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONG ISLAND RAILROAD, MITCH MENACHEM, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; RITA LEGOTTI, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; TERESA CONNETTA, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; KEVIN FEHN, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR, JANET MEROLA, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR, CHRIS PAPANDREOU, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; PAT FRIBL, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; AND KAREN JOHNSON, IN HER OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS AN AIDER AND ABETTOR; DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Plaintiff, James Crayton ("Plaintiff" or "Crayton"), brings this action against Defendants, Long Island Rail Road ("LIRR" or "Defendants"), alleging unlawful discrimination and retaliation on the basis of his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

A. Plaintiff's Work History

Plaintiff James Crayton, an African-American male, was employed by LIRR in various positions over a twelve-year period.*fn2 (Compl. ¶ 14.) While employed by LIRR, Plaintiff was a member of the Transportation Communications Union ("TCU"). (Steven Drayzen Affidavit ("Drayzen Aff.") at ¶ 2.)*fn3 As a member of the TCU, the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's employment were covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") in effect between the LIRR and the TCU. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 3.)

In February 1994, Crayton, who was then employed as a ticket clerk, was accused of mishandling $129.00 worth of negotiable instruments, tickets and/or checks. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Disciplinary charges were filed against him for "irregularities in the sale of tickets" after it was discovered that Plaintiff had underreported several cash fares he had collected. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 5.) A trial was held on these disciplinary charges in March 1994, and Plaintiff was dismissed as a result of the trials. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶¶ 7, 9.) An appeal by the union of Plaintiff's dismissal was denied and the dismissal upheld. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was removed from service without pay. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 13.) In order to get his job back, Plaintiff had to sign a Last Chance Agreement, which "permanently disqualified him from holding any position which involved handling or accounting for Company funds or tickets." (Compl. ¶ 21; Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 12.) The Last Chance Agreement also required Plaintiff to admit full culpability for altering the prices on blank monthly tickets for the purpose of defrauding the railroad. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 11.) The five months that Plaintiff was held out of service was considered a displinary suspension. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 14.) Despite the suspension, Plaintiff alleges that "at all relevant times, Plaintiff performed his duties in a satisfactory manner, and his time and attendance were good." (Compl. at ¶ 16.)

During his employment, Plaintiff repeatedly complained about racial bias to his supervisors. (Compl. at ¶¶ 18, 20.) In September 2003, Plaintiff wrote to his Union Representative and complained of bias in the Crew Dispatcher Trainee Program. (Compl. at ¶ 18.) When he applied to be a crew dispatcher, Plaintiff alleges that he was "given a test that contained errors, and his training program was administered out of sequence." (Id.) He alleges that "none of the Caucasian trainees were subject to inaccurate tests, or improper training sequencing." (Id.) He alleges that "under racially suspect circumstances, [he] never became a Crew Dispatcher." (Compl. at ¶ 19.)

On October 29, 2003, Plaintiff was awarded a supervisor position in the LIRR's Travel Information Center ("TIC"). (Compl. ¶ 19; Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 20.) On January 12, 2004, Plaintiff was demoted, or disqualified, as the relief supervisor and removed from the position. (Compl. at ¶ 21; Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 21.) Plaintiff alleges he was demoted "in retaliation for his prior complaints of discrimination." (Compl. at ¶ 21.) LIRR alleges that Plaintiff was removed from the position because once the TIC Department learned of the provision in the Last Chance Agreement that permanently disqualified Plaintiff from handling funds or tickets, they had to remove him. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶¶ 21, 23.) Defendant alleges that one of the essential duties of the supervisor position is the "processing of employee payroll" which "directly involves the proper accounting of Company funds." (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 22.) Plaintiff alleges that LIRR's "asserted basis for removing Plaintiff from the relief supervisor position is pretextual because it was a relief job that involved inputting employee time into the computer" and "Plaintiff would have not have been handling funds." (Compl. at ¶ 25.)

B. The Terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement*fn4

The removal of disciplinary charges from a TCU-represented employee's record is expressly covered by Article 52 of the CBA. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 15.) Article 52(f)(1) of the CBA provides that disciplinary suspensions and reprimands for "minor offenses" which are placed on an employee's discipline record "shall" be removed therefrom no less than three years following the date said discipline was assessed, while Article 52(f)(2) provides that disciplinary suspensions and reprimands assessed for infractions of operating rules which are placed on an employee's discipline record shall be removed therefrom no less than five years following the date the discipline was assessed. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 16; see also Ex. D, p. 67.)

However, Article 52(f)(3) of the CBA expressly provides that an employee who receives a "displinary suspension as a result of an incident for which he or she was initially removed from service" shall, not less than eight years following final disposition of said incident, have the right to request that the LIRR review said suspension and remove it from their personnel record. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 17; see also Ex. D, p. 67.)

Plaintiff objected to the demotion and complained to the Union, claiming that the Last Chance Agreement should not have been in his file. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 24.) Plaintiff alleges that "Last Chance Agreements can be removed from an employee's file upon application of the union" but that "the union never pursued this on Plaintiff's behalf." (Compl. at ¶ 25.) Defendants contend that under Article 52(f)(3), the LIRR was not required to remove the Last Chance Agreement from Plaintiff's file and that it was incumbent upon Plaintiff to request that the Last Chance Agreement be removed. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 18.) No such request was ever made by Plaintiff or his union. (Compl. at ¶ 25; Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 18.)

C. Plaintiff's Appeal and Complaint to the New York State Division of Human Rights

Plaintiff's union requested an appeal, under Article 54 of the CBA, of Plaintiff's demotion. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 25.) On April 22, 2004, an appeal meeting was held and the union was given the opportunity to present its position on the matter. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 26.) The union's appeal was denied. (Drayzen Aff. at ¶ 27.) Mr. Drayzen sent a letter to Arthur Maratea, General Chairman of the TCU, communicating his decision to deny the appeal and also ...


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