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Brown v. Capital District Psychiatric Center

January 12, 2007

WALLACE BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAPITAL DISTRICT PSYCHIATRIC CENTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se, Wallace Brown, alleges, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq (Title VII), that his former employer, Capital District Psychiatric Center (CDPC), discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Pending under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is CDPC's motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. No. 29. For the reasons that follow, CDPC's motion is granted.

II. Facts

Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Brown, the material undisputed facts are as follows. Brown, an African-American, was formerly employed by CDPC as a Mental Health Therapy Aide (MHTA). See Def. SMF ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 29. On August 25, 2002, Brown was on duty at the Jansen House, a residential half-way house where CDPC patients live in a community setting as they transition from in-patient care to independent living. See id. ¶ 2. An incident occurred that night involving Brown, and CDPC began an investigation into the incident.*fn1 See id. ¶ 3.

Meanwhile, on September 2, Brown was reassigned to MHTA duties at CDPC in patient services as part of a "float pool."*fn2 See Def. SMF ¶ 3, Dkt. No. 29. The reassignment was a regular MHTA position in which Brown would be under close supervision. See id. ¶ 9. This position also allowed Brown to continue his employment in patient care while receiving the same pay and working the same shift. See id. It is CDPC's standard operating procedure to reassign an employee whose job performance is being investigated until the situation is resolved. See id. ¶ 4.

On October 2, Brown received a Notice of Discipline with a proposed penalty of termination on the charges of insubordination and misconduct resulting from the Jansen House incident. See Def. SMF ¶ 5, Dkt. No. 29. Brown had previously been counseled on two occasions in 2002 for failing to follow established procedures. See id. ¶ 6. He also received a performance evaluation for the period of December 2001 to December 2002 reflecting unsatisfactory performance for his Jansen House duties. See id. ¶ 7.

At about the same time the Notice of Discipline was served, CDPC reorganized its patient services, changing from a unit-based system to a facility-wide "treatment mall." See id. ¶ 12. The treatment mall was a central location to which patients came from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day for treatment. See Def. SMF ¶ 13, Dkt. No. 29. Among the patients who traveled to the treatment mall was Loren L., a forensic patient who had suffered a brain injury and had a history of behavioral problems. See id. ¶ 16. Loren L. required constant supervision, and Brown was assigned to be his escort. See id. ¶ 17. Brown's duties included escorting Loren L. to and from the treatment mall, sitting with him at his group sessions, and intervening when Loren L. misbehaved. See id. ¶ 18. Brown performed his duties as Loren L.'s escort well. See id. ¶ 19.

At one point during this assignment, Brown complained to the director of nursing at CDPC that he was not receiving regular breaks. See Def. SMF ¶ 21, Dkt. No. 29. She instructed Brown's direct supervisors to ensure that he received regular breaks. See id. ¶ 22. At no time did Brown express concerns to CDPC supervisors that he was the victim of racial discrimination. See id. ¶ 23.

On June 17, 2003, Brown received a second Notice of Discipline with a proposed penalty of a $200.00 fine on the charges of insubordination and misconduct. See id. ¶ 8. These charges resulted from Brown's failure to follow the "Special Observation Policy" while performing a one-on-one watch of a patient. See Def. SMF ¶ 8, Dkt. No. 29.

On August 6, 2003, Brown called the U.S. Attorney's office in Albany and made what were interpreted as threats directed at CDPC. See id. ¶ 23. As a result of the call, Brown was placed on administrative leave with pay. See id. ¶ 22. He was not permitted to enter the grounds of CDPC without facility administration authorization. See id.

On May 14, 2004, Brown received a suspension Notice of Discipline with a proposed penalty of termination on the charges of misconduct resulting from the August 6, 2003 telephone call. See id. ¶ 25. Pending the resolution of the Notice of Discipline, Brown was suspended without pay. See Def. SMF ¶ 25, Dkt. No. 29. The Notice of Discipline was heard by an arbitrator who ultimately found Brown guilty of the charge. See id. ¶ 26.

On August 19, 2003, Brown filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. After a hearing, a determination and order was issued on February 6, 2006, finding no probable cause to believe that CDPC "has engaged in or is engaging in the ...


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