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Kantor-Hopkins v. Cyberzone Health Club

June 8, 2007


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


Pro se Plaintiff Leslie Kantor-Hopkins ("Plaintiff") brings suit against her former employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Plaintiff alleges that she was retaliated against for lodging internal complaints of sexual harassment with her employer, Cyberzone Health Club ("Defendant"). The alleged employment discrimination took place on three separate occasions: when she was suspended from her job as a general gym attendant, when her employment was terminated, and when she had difficulty in collecting wages. Defendant declines to address the merits of the claim and instead moves to dismiss the claim in its entirety under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Plaintiff's charges are time-barred. Plaintiff has not opposed the motion. Because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court construes Plaintiff's papers broadly in deciding this motion, and it interprets them to raise the strongest arguments suggested. See Weixel v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of New York, 287 F.3d 138, 145-46 (2d Cir. 2002). For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

I. Facts

Plaintiff is a forty-two year old woman who worked as a general attendant for Defendant. Vicki Apice ("Apice") owned Defendant. Apice employed Plaintiff from October 2003 until January 16, 2005. Bonnist Affirmation in Support of Mot. to Dismiss in Lieu of an Answer ("Bonnist Aff."), 10. As part of her duties, Plaintiff handled customer complaints, collected money from patrons, and cleaned the counters and the equipment on the gym floor. Id.

Plaintiff claims that she also performed tasks outside the scope of her official duties, such as handling incoming food shipments and placing orders for supplies. Defendant did not compensate Plaintiff for these tasks. Plaintiff alleges that, in return for these extra-contractual tasks, defendant implied that Plaintiff would receive a promotion to a managerial position. Plaintiff was never promoted. Instead, defendant promoted a "younger man" to the managerial position, even though he had only been employed for six months at that time.*fn1 Id. Even after the younger man left Defendant's employ, the position remained vacant and the Plaintiff did not receive the promotion.

In August 2004, a male patron began to sexually harass the Plaintiff by "making comments about [her] body." Id. After it happened a second time, Plaintiff confronted the patron and reported the incidents to Apice. Apice declined to take action.

The same patron sexually harassed the Plaintiff for a third time, and Plaintiff notified Apice. Again, Apice did nothing in response to Plaintiff's complaint. Apice allegedly explained to Plaintiff that "if you already said something to him and his behavior hasn't changed, what makes you think my saying something to him is going to help?" Id. at 11. In response, Plaintiff threatened to have her husband address the situation. Apice "told [Plaintiff] that whatever [her] husband did, it would have to be done outside the gym." Id. Without the assistance of her husband, Plaintiff again approached the patron and sought to end the harassment.

The harassment did not end. From August 2004 to January 7, 2005, the patron "leered and stared" at the Plaintiff and made "lewd and crude comments" to her. Id. Plaintiff asked her husband to intervene and, on the morning of January 7, he talked to the patron on the gym floor and in the locker room. Eventually, Apice asked that the feuding pair sit down in her office, presumably to discuss the situation in a less heated environment. Ten minutes later, Plaintiff's husband emerged from Apice's office and said he thought Plaintiff would be fired. Apice then called Plaintiff into her office and allegedly said, "I told you not to do this . . . . [W]hat the [expletive] [sic] is wrong with you . . . . I saw you laughing and getting your jollies telling people what's going on, I should [expletive] [sic] fire you right now." Id.

Apice did not fire Plaintiff that morning, but she insisted that Plaintiff leave for the day. On January 9, 2005, Apice called Plaintiff at her home and suspended her for "what [she] had done." Id. at 12. Before Plaintiff could go back to work, Apice called Plaintiff again on January 16 and permanently terminated her employment. On January 21, Plaintiff visited the health club in order to collect money for the services she performed on the morning of January 7. An argument ensued, and Apice told Plaintiff that she "[had] some [expletive] [sic] nerve" to ask for the money. After initially refusing to pay, Apice eventually capitulated and threw the money at the Plaintiff. It landed on the floor. In the end, Plaintiff refused the money and told Apice that she intended to pursue legal action against the Defendant.

In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges retaliatory discrimination took place on:

(a) January 9, 2005, when Defendant suspended Plaintiff.

(b) January 16, 2005, when Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment.

(c) January 21, 2005, when Defendant's owner initially refused to compensate Plaintiff for services she rendered on the morning of January 7, 2005, and ...

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