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Crawford v. Dep't of Investigation

October 1, 2007

GREGORY CRAWFORD, LLOYD LEDLUM, KAREN REYNOLDS, NANCY RUTKOWSKI, STEVEN SCICERE, FRANCIS SMITH, AND LISA ZAREMSKI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION, THE CITY AND ORDER OF NEW YORK, DANIEL BROWNELL, JANICE ENGLISH, ELIZABETH GLAZER, VINCENT GREEN, ROSE GILL HEARN, MARJORIE LANDA, ROBERT JOYCE, MARY KOSLOW, JOHN MCMAHON, STACIE PITTELL, AND DAVID VANDERNAALT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kimba M. Wood, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs bring this action against Defendants pursuant to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (the "ADEA"), and the New York State and City Human Rights Laws, alleging that their selection for layoff as part of a May 2003 reduction in force was the result of age, sex, and/or race discrimination. Two Plaintiffs allege in addition that they suffered retaliation for engaging in a protected activity or opposing discrimination. Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted.

I. Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed and are derived from the parties' Local Civil Rule 56.1 statements,*fn1 affidavits, and other submissions.*fn2 All inferences have been drawn in favor of Plaintiffs.

The New York City Department of Investigation ("DOI") is a government agency that investigates and refers for prosecution New York City employees and contractors who may have engaged in corrupt or fraudulent activities or unethical conduct. Compl. ¶ 25. In 2002 and 2003, New York City's Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") ordered DOI and other city agencies to reduce their budgets a number of times to allay the city's financial crisis. Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. in Supp. of Motion for Summ. J. ¶¶ 23, 26, 35, 37 [hereinafter "Defs.' 56.1 Stmt."]. DOI met each of OMB's budget reduction reductions without laying off personnel until February 2003. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 29.*fn3

In early 2003, OMB ordered DOI to reduce its budget by $1.7 million (the "Reduction Target"). Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 35, 37. In late February 2003, DOI concluded that it had no choice but to lay off personnel.*fn4 Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 38-39.

In deciding whom to lay off, members of DOI's Executive Staff reviewed performance evaluations for all agency personnel. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 42. Each member of the Executive Staff overseeing units of DOI made recommendations about how to consolidate the agency's operations and about which employees to lay off. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 44. DOI contends that job performance and productivity were the primary factors in deciding whom to lay off. E.g., Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 41, 44. Plaintiffs dispute this contention, arguing that DOI's reasons were discriminatory and, in the case of two Plaintiffs, retaliatory.

Plaintiffs are seven former DOI employees who were laid off in May 2003, in connection with DOI's efforts to meet the Reduction Target. Gregory Crawford ("Crawford") is an African American male who worked as a Special Investigator with DOI's Procurement, Real Property, Parks and Finance Unit (the "PRPF Unit"). At the time of his layoff, Crawford was 55. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 2. He alleges that DOI chose him for layoff because of his age, race, and sex.

Lloyd Ledlum ("Ledlum") is an African American male. At the time of his layoff, Ledlum was 53 and was an Investigative Auditor/Confidential Investigator in DOI's PRPF Unit. Defs.'

56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3. He alleges that DOI chose him for layoff because of his age and sex, and in retaliation for having engaged in a protected activity.

Karen Reynolds ("Reynolds") is a white female who was a Senior Security Analyst and Special Investigator in DOI's Citywide Information Security, Architecture, Formulation, and Enforcement Unit (the "CISAFE Unit"). Compl. ¶ 133. At the time of her layoff, Reynolds was 56. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 4. She alleges that DOI chose her for layoff because of her age and sex.

Nancy Rutkowski ("Rutkowski") is a white female. At the time of her layoff, Rutkowski was 49 and was the Director of DOI's Covert Support/Investigative Funding Unit. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5. She alleges that DOI chose her for layoff because of her age, race, and sex.

Steven Scicere is an African American male who worked as the Deputy Inspector General of DOI's Internal Control Unit. At the time of his layoff, Scicere was 43. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 6. He alleges that DOI chose him for layoff because of his age, race, and sex.

Francis Smith ("Smith") is a white male. At the time of his layoff, Smith was 49 and was a Chief Investigator in DOI's Fire/Taxi and Limousine Unit. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7. He alleges that DOI chose him for layoff because of his age, race, and sex, and in retaliation for having engaged in a protected activity.

Lisa Zaremski ("Zaremski") is a white female. At the time of her layoff, Zaremski was 53 and was a Confidential Investigator in DOI's Office of the Inspector General overseeing the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8. She alleges that DOI chose her for layoff because of her age.

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate only when the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Guilbert v. Gardner, 480 F.3d 140, 145 (2d Cir. 2007). "[S]ubstantive law will identify which facts are material," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986), and an issue of "material fact is 'genuine[]' . . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.; Mitchell v. Shane, 350 F.3d 39, 47 (2d Cir. 2003). All ambiguities must be resolved, and all inferences drawn, in favor of the nonmoving party. Slattery v. Swiss Reinsurance Am. Corp., 248 F.3d 87, 91 (2d Cir. 2001). But "[a] non-moving party cannot avoid summary judgment simply by asserting a 'metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Woodman v. WWOR-TV, Inc., 411 F.3d 69, 75 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). Rather, a non-moving party "must 'set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial,'" id. (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. ...


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