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O'Leary v. NY State Unified Court System

August 6, 2007


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


On July 26, 2005, Frances O'Leary ("O'Leary" or "Plaintiff") filed a complaint against her employer, the New York State Unified Court System ("OCA" or "Defendant") that alleged sex, national origin, and race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000(e) et seq., New York State Human Rights Laws, N.Y. Exec. L. §290, et seq. ("State HRL"), and New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. C. §8-101, et seq. ("City HRL") ("Compl."). On November 15, 2006, Plaintiff amended her complaint ("Am. Compl."), and alleged she was not selected for an interview or considered for Chief Clerk position(s) by OCA based on her sex, national origin, and age. On November 29, 2006, counsel for both parties met with the Court and agreed that all national origin and age discrimination claims would be dropped, and that the only remaining claims are those for race and sex discrimination. The charge, in essence, by the Plaintiff is that OCA hired non-Caucasian females, as well as Caucasian and non-Caucasian males, while discriminating against Caucasian women like her. OCA now moves this Court for summary judgment with respect to the remaining claims.*fn2 For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED in its entirety.


A. O'Leary's Employment with the New York State Unified Court System

From 1978 to July 2005 (inception of this action), O'Leary, an Irish-American female (Compl. ¶ 9), worked for OCA and held various positions in both New York and BronX Counties. From 1978-1983, O'Leary was a Uniformed Court Officer in New York and Bronx Counties. Am. Compl. ¶ 10. From September 1983 through February 1985, O'Leary was employed as Senior Court Clerk in Bronx County Surrogate's Court, and on February 7, 1985, O'Leary was appointed as Senior Court Clerk in New York City Civil Court. Id. From 1985 through 2005, O'Leary was employed as a Senior, Associate, and Court Attorney for various justices in the New York County and Bronx County Supreme Courts.*fn3

B. The Unified Court System's Employment Application and Appointment Process

The selection process for positions in New York City courts spans four separate stages --

(1) solicitation of applications for a position, (2) interview of qualified applicants for the position, (3) identification of the person most qualified for the position, and (4) the actual appointment of the selected applicant to the position. Affidavit of John Sullivan, Apr. 9, 2007 ("Sullivan Aff.") ¶ 17. Job announcements, which identify the position to be filled, its duties, the minimum qualifications for appointment and describe the application procedures, are posted in court facilities throughout New York State to afford eligible persons the opportunity to apply. Id. All applications submitted in response to a job announcement are reviewed by an interview panel consisting of at least four persons who typically are well-acquainted with the advertised position. Id. ¶ 18. OCA application forms omit any provisions for an applicant to identify his or her race, sex, color, or national origin. Sullivan Aff. ¶ 19. After reviewing each application in light of the duties of the position, the interview panel identifies those applicants deemed to be the most qualified for the position and invites a number of them for a job interview. Id. After the panel completes its interviews, it selects the three "most qualified candidates for the position," and from these three identifies the top applicant to whom it would like to extend an offer of employment, then the panel sends its recommendation to the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the New York City courts, who then forwards the list and supporting documents with his or her recommendation to the OCA Administrative Director. Id. at ¶ 20.

C. O'Leary's Applications for Positions with OCA

O'Leary applied for eight positions with OCA in eight years,*fn4 and each of the positions was given to a non-Caucasian woman, or a man. Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") 12-13. Plaintiff contends she was only granted three interviews. Id.

(1) O'Leary's Employment Applications, 2002-2004

In December 2002, O'Leary applied for the Deputy Chief Clerk V position*fn5 and was granted an interview; however, OCA ultimately hired a Hispanic female. Reply to Def's 56.1 Statement and Statement of Additional Facts ("Pl.'s Reply to Def's 56.1") ¶ 2; Pl.'s Opp'n 8. Thereafter, on March 5, 2004, O'Leary applied for the position of Chief Clerk VII of the Bronx County Supreme Court.*fn6 Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 12. All seventy-seven applications received, including O'Leary's, were sent to the interview panel: three of the four interviewers were Caucasian, and three of the four were women. Def's 56.1 Statement ¶ 12. Twenty-four individuals were invited to interview on May 27, 2004, but Plaintiff was not one of them. Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 12-14, 39; Am. Compl. ¶ 16. On July 12, 2004, OCA announced its selection of a Hispanic female for the Chief Clerk VII position. Pl.'s Opp'n 6.

Also in March of 2004, O'Leary applied for the position of Chief Clerk VII of the Kings County Supreme Court.*fn7 Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 21. Of the seventy-two applications for this position, ten people were interviewed for this position, but O'Leary was not one of them. Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 21, 24. O'Leary's application failed to note any managerial or supervisory experience required for this position. Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 25.*fn8 Ultimately, OCA selected a Caucasian male for the position. Pl.'s Opp'n 6.

On March 16, 2004, O'Leary applied for the Court Clerk Specialist position in the New York County Supreme Court,Criminal Term.*fn9 Am. Compl. ΒΆ 14. The interview panel reviewed the forty-six applications submitted, and eleven people were selected to interview, but O'Leary was not chosen. Def.'s 56.1 ...

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