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Brightman v. Prison Health Service

March 30, 2007


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


Plaintiff Victoria Brightman ("Plaintiff" or "Brightman") brings this action against defendants Prison Health Service ("PHS"), Prison Health Medical Service, P.C. ("PHMS"), New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ("DOHMH"), The City of New York ("City") and Don Doherty, Trevor Parks, M.D., Becky Pinney, Jack Rafferty and Paul Robinson, alleging sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Administrative Code.*fn1

Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on April 11, 2006, after recognizing that the City of New York was not her legal employer, and withdrew her federal claims and state law claims pursuant to Executive Law §296(1) and New York City Administrative Code §8-107(1) against the City of New York and DOHMH ("City Defendants"), but added claims pursuant to New York State Executive Law §296(6) and New York City Administrative Code §8-107(6), alleging that City Defendants aided and abetted the alleged unlawful discrimination. These are the only two claims asserted against City Defendants. Plaintiff also makes these same claims against individual defendants Doherty, Parks, Pinney, Rafferty and Robinson (she does not assert Title VII claims against the individual defendants).

Defendants PHS, PHMS, Doherty, Parks, Pinney, Rafferty and Robinson (the "Prison Defendants") and the City Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions are granted.


The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("Compl.") and are deemed to be true for the purpose of this motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff, an African-American female, is employed as a physician's assistant in the correctional health care system. (Compl. ¶ 15.) Health care is provided to inmates housed in the various correctional facilities in New York City by private contractors hired by the City, and DOHMH, which is a subsidiary of the New York City Department of Health, oversees the private contractors. (Compl. ¶ 16.) At three year intervals, the existing contract with the City lapses and the City accepts bids from various vendors and awards the new contract to a new vendor. (Id.) From January 1, 1998 to December 31, 2000, Plaintiff was employed by St. Barnabas Hospital, the City's selected vendor for that contract. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's contract with PHMS began on January 1, 2001. (Id.)

On October 9, 2000, while still employed by St. Barnabas, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the chief acting physician, alleging that she was being sexually harassed by Paul Robinson, her supervisor. (Compl. ¶ 20.) When PHMS took over the contract from St. Barnabas, Robinson was transferred by PHMS to the Riker's Island facility, while Plaintiff continued working in Manhattan. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff alleges that, because she filed this complaint of harassment, she was labeled a "troublemaker" and subsequently retaliated against by upper management. (Compl. ¶ 22.)

In or about August 2001, Plaintiff commenced leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Compl. ¶ 23.) Prior to the end of her leave, on or about August 24, 2001, Plaintiff was suspended by PHMS because her employment within the correctional facility violated rules set forth by the New York City Department of Corrections.*fn2 (Id.) Plaintiff remained on suspension for over eleven months before being reinstated via mediation on August 12, 2002. (Id.) After she returned to work, Plaintiff was transferred from the Manhattan facility to the Riker's Island facility and re-classified as a "float," which meant that she was not given a permanent work location, but was assigned to work within various buildings at Riker's Island as needed. (Id.)

According to Plaintiff, she was continually harassed by defendants after she returned from her suspension. Unlike similarly situated co-workers, she continually received requests to provide updated medical credentials. (Id.) On or about June 19, 2003, defendant Doherty (Vice President of Operations) and defendant Rafferty (Director of Human Resources) ordered Plaintiff removed from the work schedule because she failed to provide them with updated credentials. (Id.) Plaintiff claims she was also denied overtime assignments after her return. (Id.) She complained of these actions to Robert Berding, a DOHMH Staff Person, on February 20, 2003, and to Ernest Marrero, the Executive Director of DOHMH, on June 25, 2003. (Compl. ¶ 25.) On or about February 26, 2004, Plaintiff spoke to Barbara Skinner, a Representative of the City Commission on Human Rights, to complain about this discriminatory treatment. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

On or about March 4, 2004, Plaintiff received a letter from Vanessa Jones, her Union Delegate, stating that Richard Plantamura, a Human Resources Representative, was requesting her Medical Health form because her employment folder was incomplete. (Compl. ¶ 27.) According to Plaintiff, Jones informed her that Plantamura indicated that he was under pressure to terminate Plaintiff. (Id.) She arranged for Jones to forward the appropriate forms to Plantamura on March 8, 2004. (Compl. ¶ 28.) On that same day, Defendant Rafferty issued a memo in which Plaintiff was cited for lacking four updated credentials. (Id.) Plaintiff continued to have trouble with credentialing requirements through May and June of that year. (Compl. ¶¶ 29 -33.)

In December 2004, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Compl. ¶ 34.) Plaintiff claims that following the filing of her complaint, the continuing practice of harassment intensified. For example, when she refused to conduct sick call duties for inmates in the radiology office, she was told to go home, but when similarly situated colleagues complained about the use of the radiology office for sick call assignments, they were not ordered to go home. (Compl. ¶¶ 35, 36.) On another occasion, about seven months later, she was told to go home because she raised her voice when speaking with a co-worker. (Compl. ¶ 47.)

Plaintiff had continued disciplinary and credentialing problems throughout 2005. (Compl. ¶¶ 39 - 46.) On June 15, 2005, Plaintiff received a call requesting that she provide a recent picture of herself because the picture in Plaintiff's credentialing folder had expired according to the Department of Health. (Compl. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff claims this ...

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