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Hurd v. New York Health & Hospitals Corp.

March 5, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, District Judge


Plaintiff Alton L. Hurd ("Hurd") brings claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et seq. ("ADEA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981, New York Executive Law §§ 290, et seq., and New York City Administrative Code §§ 8-101, et seq. against Defendants New York Health & Hospitals Corporation ("HHC"), Vincent Mirdita ("Mirdita"), Caroline Brozak ("Brozak"), and Yolando Russell ("Russell"). Hurd alleges he was denied promotion on the basis of his race, national origin, age and/or gender. He further alleges Defendants retaliated against him for filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Defendants now move for summary judgment. The motion is granted.


I. The Parties

Hurd is a 50-year-old black male of Jamaican national origin with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration from CUNY Lehman College. From September 1998 through the entire period relevant to this matter, he was employed by HHC at the Jacobi Medical Center ("JMC") as a Hospital Care Investigator ("HCI") in the Finance Department, responsible for ensuring that JMC received payment for all services provided. From August 1995 to September 1998, he was a clerical worker at JMC, and prior to his tenure at JMC he spent three months as a Sales Representative for Universal Health Plan selling managed care plans to Medicaid recipients. As an HCI, Hurd received the highest possible rating of "Outstanding" on his September to September evaluations for 1999-2000, 2000-2001, and 2001-2002.

Brozak, a white female, was Deputy Executive Director (Ambulatory Care Services) of JMC during the relevant period and, among other duties, oversaw the Managed Care Unit. Brozak's husband immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia.

Mirdita, a white male, was Director of the Patient Accounts Division of the JMC Finance Department, in which Hurd was employed. Mirdita is originally from Montenegro, then a constituent republic of Yugoslavia.

Russell is a black female of non-Jamaican origin, and at all relevant times was Chief Executive of the JMC Human Resources Department.

II. Denial of Promotions

Hurd applied for four positions within JMC: (1) Coordinating Manager Level A in the Managed Care Department; (2) Coordinating Manager Level A in the Finance Department; (3) Cobra-Community Coordinator in the HIV Services Department; and (4) Cobra-Coordinating Manager Level A in the HIV Services Department. Hurd claims he was denied promotion on each occasion because of discrimination.

A. Coordinating Manager in Managed Care

Hurd applied for the Coordinating Manager position in Managed Care on or about April 2, 2002, and was interviewed on or about April 23 by Richard Bernstock ("Bernstock"). The posted requirements of the position included a bachelor's degree in one of a variety of fields generally related to health administration and three years of general experience in a relevant field, or "a satisfactory equivalent combination of training, education and experience." Declaration of Jason R. Bogni, Exhibit E. Leonora Lulaj ("Lulaj"), a white female originally from Montenegro who had been an HCI since March 2000, was ultimately appointed to the position.

Lulaj's Qualifications

Lulaj had a Montenegrin high school diploma with a major in accounting and finance, but no college degree. She received a rating of "Satisfactory," the standard rating, on her March 2000 to September 2000 evaluation and her September 2000 to March 2001 evaluation. On her March 2001 to March 2002 evaluation, she received a "Satisfactory Plus" rating. Before being hired at JMC, Lulaj was Assistant Health Care Program Planner Analyst at North Central Bronx Hospital from October 1995 to March 2000, responsible for "[ensuring] smooth and efficient operations of [the] managed care office." Declaration of Jason R. Bogni, Exhibit I. Additionally, from January to October 1995 Lulaj was an enrollment representative and senior enrollment representative at Metroplus Health Plan, first enrolling and then supervising others in enrolling Medicaid recipients in managed care plans.

Bernstock testified that he chose Lulaj over Hurd because of her extensive experience in managed care, and because Hurd presented poorly during his interview, seeming tired, unenthusiastic and bland. Bernstock also testified that after he interviewed the candidates and decided on Lulaj, he discussed the matter with Brozak. He did not recall any specific input provided by Brozak, except that she approved his selection. Brozak testified that after the interviews they discussed the candidates, including Lulaj. In particular they discussed her work ethic, knowledge, and ...

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