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Waheed v. Suny Brooklyn Educational Opportunity Center

July 24, 2007


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


Plaintiff Irina T. Waheed ("Waheed"), pro se, brings this action against defendant SUNY Brooklyn Educational Opportunity Center ("BEOC") alleging discrimination stemming from BEOC's failure to promote her, her termination and alleged unequal pay and privileges due to her national origin, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). BEOC now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). For the reasons set forth below, BEOC's summary judgment motion is granted.


Unequal Pay and Privileges Claim Waheed is of Russian-Ukranian origin. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 1. Waheed was a student at BEOC and obtained a certificate as a bookkeeper's assistant. She was also employed by BEOC. Id. at ¶ 3-4. Waheed's first job at BEOC was as a "lab monitor" in BEOC's career services program where she helped students in their job searches. Id. at ¶4.Waheed began working as a lab monitor part-time in April 2002 at the hourly wage of $7.50. Id.

In August or September 2002, Waheed learned from Dr. James Ogunusi ("Ogunusi"), BEOC's business manager and her direct supervisor, that she was "the lowest paid person in the entire school." See Summary of Important Facts, p. 1-2.*fn1 Waheed also discovered that Earleen Samuels, a non-Russian-Ukranian lab employee with less experience than Waheed, was being paid $10.00 an hour. Id; Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 6. Waheed complained to Dr. Linda Noble, the head of BEOC's internship program. Id. Eventually, Waheed's pay grievance reached Dr. Lois Blades-Rosado ("Dr. Rosado"), the Dean and Executive Director of BEOC, who approved a pay increase to $10.00 per hour. Id. at ¶ 7. Waheed concedes that she received the pay increase but asserts that Dr. Rosado was slow in giving her the increase and that she should have been paid more than Samuels, not the same. Opposition to Rosado, p. 1. Waheed's pay increase was effective October 9, 2002. See Exhibit 1 to Plaintiff's Affirmation.

In July 2002, several months after being hired as a part-time lab monitor, Waheed began to intern in BEOC's Business Office. Eventually, as further explained below, Waheed was hired as a part-time College Accounting Assistant. Waheed claims that, as a part-time Business Office employee, she was subject to less favorable working conditions than other employees of the Business Office because she was not listed on the phone directory, not provided keys to the office and not listed on internal memoranda. Summary of Important Facts, pp. 4, 7. According to Waheed, she was told that Dr. Rosado did not want her to have keys to the office because she was a "part-timer." Id. at p. 4. Waheed also claims that her absence from the phone directory and from internal memoranda was due to the fact that "Dr. Rosado never really recognized me as an employee working in the Business Office [sic]." Opposition to Rosado, p. 3.

Failure to Promote Claim

In the Spring of 2003, several employees of BEOC's Business Office retired. Waheed had been working as an intern in the Business Office since July 2002 and, by all accounts, doing a great job. See Affidavit of James Ogunusi, Annexed to the Complaint.*fn2 In preparation for the retirements, in April 2003, Ogunusi and Jason Wright, an accountant with the BEOC Business Office, met with Dr. Rosado, Dr. Grazyna B. Kenda ("Kenda"), Associate Director for Academic Affairs, and Jacinth V. Hanson ("Hanson"), Assistant to the Associate Director of Academic Affairs. Id. At the meeting, Ogunusi and Wright recommended Waheed be offered a full-time College Accounting Assistant position. Id. According to Ogunusi, Hanson objected to Waheed receiving a full-time position because she was concerned about Waheed's "accent, ability to speak the English language." Id.

Instead of being hired as a full-time College Accounting Assistant, Waheed was hired as a part-time College Accounting Assistant. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 9. The initial appointment ran from May 22, 2003, through June 30, 2003. Id. at ¶ 13. Shortly after receiving the appointment, Waheed met with Dr. Rosado to complain about being given a part-time appointment rather than a full-time appointment. Summary of Important Facts, p. 3; Opposition to Rosado, p. 3. Dr. Rosado responded, "I have nothing against you, have no doubt in your qualifications, and I am not listening to anybody not Dr. Kenda or Ms. Hanson." Id. As a result of the meeting, Waheed's salary was increased from $15.00 and hour to $18.00 an hour. Summary of Important Facts, p. 3. Waheed's part-time assignment was extended twice by Dr. Rosado. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 14. After the first extension, Waheed again spoke to Dr. Rosado about receiving a full-time position. Summary of Important Facts, p 4. Rosado advised Waheed to file an application. Id. In a subsequent conversation, Dr. Rosado told Waheed that the new manager of the Business Office would decide her application for the full-time position. Id. at 5; Opposition to Rosado, p. 3.

Termination Claim

On August 18, 2003, Ronald Sommer became the Associate Director for Finance and Administration, and, as such, the manager of the Business Office. In this position, Sommer was Waheed's supervisor. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 21. Dr. Rosado instructed Waheed to teach Sommer about the office's accounting techniques. Opposition to Sommer, p. 2; Summary of Important Facts, 5. During that conversation, Dr. Rosado informed Waheed that a new human resources manager would be joining the Business Affairs office, and that the new human resources manager was Puerto Rican and "a very sweet lady." Summary of Important Facts, p. 5.

On August 20, 2003, Waheed formally applied for a full-time College Accounting Assistant position. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 22. Upon receiving the application, Sommer told Waheed that the Business Office was going to be reorganized and that he was unable to consider the application until he knew what positions were available. Id. at 23. Waheed surmises that Sommer's appointment was part and parcel of Dr. Rosado's plan to eliminate her (and Wright) from the Business Office. Opposition to Sommer pp. 1, 3; Summary of Important Facts, p. 5-6.

In September 2003, Sommer presented his plan to reorganize the Business Affairs Office. Rule 56.1 Stat. ¶ 24. The plan recommended that Waheed's position as part-time College Accounting Assistant be eliminated in favor of a full-time College Office Assistant. Id. at ¶ 28.The College Office Assistant paid less than a full-time College Accounting Assistant and had more clerical duties. Id. at 31. Dr. Rosado approved the reorganization plan. Id. at 25. Waheed's position was eliminated and she was terminated effective September 19, 2003. Id. at 26. Although Waheed submitted her application to be a full time College Accounting Assistant, she never submitted an application to be the College Office Assistant. Thus, Waheed was never considered for, nor hired to be, the new College Office Assistant. Opposition to Sommer, p. 2. When Waheed was informed of her termination she asked to be sent back to Academic Affairs (presumably as a lab monitor) but Sommer refused her request. Id. at pp. 2-3.

The full-time College Office Assistant position was given to Julie Tapia, a person not of Russian-Ukranian national origin. Rule 56.1 Stat. ΒΆ 32. Waheed alleges that Dr. Rosado and Sommer did not follow the usual protocol when hiring Tapia. Summary of Important Facts, pp. 6-7. Because the usual protocols were not followed, Waheed was unaware that the position of College Office Assistant was available until after Tapia was hired. Id. BEOC admits that Waheed was never considered for the College Office Assistant position because she had applied for ...

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