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Altman v. New York City Dep't of Education

March 23, 2007

HUI ZHANG ALTMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, MS. LYNCH, MR. KRUNG, MS. IROBUNDA AND MR. CHERNIOFF, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold Baer, Jr., District Judge*fn1

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff pro se Hui Zhang Altman ("Plaintiff" or "Altman") has brought this action against Defendant New York City Board of Education ("BOE") (sued herein and doing business as the "New York City Department of Education") and four individual defendants, David Kroun,*fn2 Claralee Irobunda, Steven Chernigoff,*fn3 and Olivia Ifill-Lynch*fn4 (collectively, the "individual Defendants"). Plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against on the basis of her national origin and age, in violation of Title VII, see 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e - 2000e-17 (2007), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), see 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 -- 634 (2007).

The individual Defendants now move, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), for partial judgment on the pleadings dismissing all claims against them individually. Additionally, several discovery disputes are before the Court (most prominently, Plaintiff's motion to compel the deposition of Ms. Ifill-Lynch and Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education).

For the reasons set forth below, the individual Defendants' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED. I will address pending discovery disputes at the conclusion of this Opinion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff pro se Altman, according to her Complaint, was formerly employed by Defendant BOE as an ESL teacher in the New York City public school system. See 1/12/2007 Def's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. ("Def's Mem.") at 1; 7/11/2006 Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Compl.") at 6. Plaintiff alleges that on August 20, 2004, she was fired on the basis of her Chinese national origin and her age. See Pl. Compl. at 6.

Plaintiff subsequently brought this action, on July 11, 2006, against the BOE and the four individual Defendants pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et. seq., and the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § § 621 - 634. Pl. Compl. at 1-2.*fn5 The individual Defendants now move, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them in their individual capacities.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where material facts are undisputed and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See, e.g., Quinones v. Chater, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 980, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (Baer, J.); United States v. Weisz, 914 F. Supp. 1050, 1053 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). "The same standards apply to a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings and to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim." Cowan v. Ernest Codelia, P.C., 149 F. Supp. 2d 67, 69 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), citing Burnette v. Carothers, 192 F.3d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1999). "The court must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. The court should not dismiss the complaint unless it appears beyond all doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his [or her] claim which would entitle him [or her] to relief." Quinones v. Chater, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 980, at *3 (internal citations omitted), citing, e.g., Sheppard v. Beerman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994).

III.DISCUSSION

A. Title VII and ADEA Claims

The individual Defendants contend that neither Title VII, nor the ADEA, authorizes discrimination suits against employees in their individual capacities. They are correct.

"[I]ndividuals are not subject to liability under Title VII." Carmody v. City of New York, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83207, at *21 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (Baer, J.), citing Wrighten v. Glowski, 232 F3d 119, 120 (2d Cir. 2000); Tomka v. Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1313 (2d Cir. 1995). Plaintiff counters, "If they are not subject to liability under Title VII, who will be?" 1/25/07 Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law Against Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings ("Pl. Opp."), at 1. The answer (potentially) is the Defendants in their official capacities, and ultimately, the employer-entity -- here, BOE. See Tomka v. Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1314-16 (discussing Congress' intent to limit Title VII liability to employer-entities). Put another way, there is no prohibition on Plaintiff's ability to subjourn these individuals to prove her case -- this means only that should Plaintiff prevail, the BOE will pay the bill.

Additionally, "the prevailing view among district courts in this Circuit is that an individual defendant may not be held personally liable under the ADEA." McCalman v. Partners In Care, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17704, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (dismissing ADEA claims against individual defendants), citing, e.g., Grasso v. Forrest Edward Empl. Servs., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8598, at *20-21 (S.D.N.Y 2002) (same); see also Boise v. Boufford, 127 F. Supp. 2d 467, 472 ...


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