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Connor v. New York Dep't of Correctional Services

March 9, 2007

SUZANNE (SUSAN) CONNOR, PRO SE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Suzanne Connor ("Connor" or "Plaintiff") brought suit against the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") alleging that DOCS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et. seq., as amended ("Title VII") and the New York State Human Rights Law ("N.Y.S.H.R.L.") by denying her requests to transfer into open positions at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Staten Island ("Arthur Kill") once in 1998 and twice in 1999. DOCS moved for summary judgment on all of Connor's claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons set forth below, DOCS's motion is granted in its entirety.

Background

Connor, a Caucasian female, began employment at DOCS in January 1985. Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement ("Defs. R. 56.1 Stat.") ¶2. From 1985 to 1994, Connor worked at Arthur Kill. Id. Her highest position at Arthur Kill was Calculation Clerk II. Id. She attained this position by passing the requisite tests. In 1992, Connor passed the "principal series" that allowed her to be promoted to the "Principal Clerk Personnel" position at Queensboro Correctional Facility ("Queensboro") in Queens. Id; Plaintiff's Counter Statement of Facts("Pl. Stat.") ¶ 2. Connor received the promotion despite negative comments by her former co-workers and supervisors at Arthur Kill, including comments about her association with African-American men. Pl. Stat. ¶ 2.

In November 1998, the position of Principal Clerk Personnel at Arthur Kill became available. Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶3. Connor sought the transfer but another candidate was selected. Id. According to Connor, the candidate selected was less qualified. Pl. Stat. ¶ 3-4. DOCs maintains that the person selected was more qualified than Connor and had been the acting Principal Clerk Personnel at Arthur Kill. Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶4.

In February 1999, the position of Head Account Clerk became available at Arthur Kill. Connor once again sought to be transferred from Queensboro to Arthur Kill. Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶

5. Again, another candidate was selected. Id. at ¶ 6. Without disputing the selected candidate's qualifications, Connor asserts that she was "the most" qualified for the Head Account Clerk position, in part, because, at Arthur Kill, the Head Account Clerk position was similar to the Principal Clerk Personnel position. Pl. Stat. ¶ 6. According to DOCS, the candidate selected for the position served as Arthur Kill's Principal Account Clerk, the position directly below Head Account Clerk, for thirteen years. Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶6.

In May 1999, Connor filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"). Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶7. Connor alleged in the complaint that the denial of her multiple requests to be transferred to Arthur Kill was motivated by racial animus because she was once married to an African-American. Id. The complaint was dismissed. Id. at ¶ 9. In June of 1999, Connor filed a complaint with DOCS' Office of Diversity Management on essentially the same grounds as her complaint to NYSDHR. Id. at ¶ 10. This complaint was also dismissed. Id.

Sometime between June 1999 and October 1999, the Head Account Clerk position at Arthur Kill became available, and again Connor was not transferred to Arthur Kill. Id. at ¶ 11. However, around the same time (September 1999), Connor was selected to become Head Account Clerk at the Edgecombe Correctional Facility in Queens. Id. at ¶ 11. Connor accepted the position and was transferred to Edgecombe. Id. Again, Connor alleges that she was not transferred to Arthur Kill based on racial animus and that the candidate selected for the Arthur Kill position was less qualified. Pl. Stat. ¶ 12. DOCS asserts that the candidate selected for the Arthur Kill job was more qualified than Connor. Defs. R. 56.1 Stat. ¶11.

At her deposition, Connor alleged that numerous individuals were responsible for spreading rumors about her personal life, namely her marriage to an African-American. See Declaration of John Knudsen in Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Knudsen Aff."), Exhibit

D. However, Connor has not submitted affidavits by any witnesses to the alleged rumors.

New York is a dual filing state. As such, Connor filed a timely complaint with the EEOC when she filed a complaint with the NYSDHR in May 1999. See Ford v. Bernard Fineson Development Center, 81 F.3d 304, 306-309 (2d Cir. 1996). A right to sue letter was issued on November 2, 2000 in which the EEOC adopted the findings of NYSDHR and denied Connor's complaint. Knudsen Aff., Exhibit C. This action was commenced on February 5, 2001.

Discussion

When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In drawing inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, "the court is not entitled ...


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