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Jean-Louis v. Northshore University Hospital

December 14, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge


Plaintiff Henry Jean-Louis, a former Nuclear Medicine Technologist at North Shore University Hospital at Plainview (hereinafter, the "Hospital"), brought this case alleging race and/or national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq., and New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 290, et seq. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that the defendant Hospital, as well as defendant Hospital employees Colleen Lescynski, Georgina Caputo and Kristine Lodico (collectively, "defendants"), terminated his employment unlawfully on the basis of his race and/or national origin.

On August 17, 2007, defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On October 17, 2007, defendants also moved for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in its entirety on all claims, both federal and state, and the motion for sanctions is denied.

I. Background

A. Facts

On April 5, 2005, Jean-Louis was hired by the Hospital as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 1.)*fn1 During plaintiff's sixteen week tenure at the Hospital, plaintiff's direct supervisor, Ms. Cory Langhan, was on maternity leave. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Due to Ms. Langhan's absence, plaintiff reported to defendant Colleen Lesczynski, who was the Administrative Director of Radiology and Cardiology at the Hospital at that time. (Id.) Plaintiff was a full-time technologist, while defendants Gierogina Caputo and Kristin Lodico were part-time technologists. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Nuclear Medicine Technologists are responsible for operating cameras that detect and map radioactive drugs in a patient's body to create diagnostic images. (Id. at ¶ 5.) William Raccioppi was the Chief Technologist in the Radiology Department at the Hospital. (Id. at ¶ 4; Raccioppi Decl. ¶ 1.)

(1) Plaintiff's Lateness

As a full-time technologist, plaintiff was the only employee who was scheduled to conduct morning scans for the Hospital and, therefore, was required to report to work at 8:00 a.m. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 8.) Plaintiff was to be the first person to arrive at work in the nuclear medicine department, and was responsible for conducting all scans until Ms. Caputo or Ms. Lodico arrived to work at their respective scheduled times later in the day. (Id. at ¶ 9.) The equipment used by the technologists requires 45 minutes of calibration every morning before the first scan. (Id. at ¶ 10.) The Hospital utilized a time card system to keep track of arrival and departure times of employees. (Id. at ¶ 11.) Therefore, plaintiff's time cards, which plaintiff created when he clocked in each morning, reflect the dates on which he was late and the time he arrived at work. (Id.)

Between April 7, 2005 and May 27, 2005, plaintiff was late a total of 25 times. (Id. at ¶ 12.)*fn2 Plaintiff was verbally warned about his lateness by Mr. Raccioppi on May 30, 2005. (Id. at ¶ 13.) It is the Hospital's policy to memorialize verbal warnings in writing in personnel files. (Id. at ¶ 14.) A written confirmation of the May 30 verbal warning is contained in plaintiff's personnel file, along with the time and date of his late arrivals.*fn3 (Raccioppi Decl. ¶ 11 and Ex. C.) Following the May 30 verbal warning, plaintiff was late another 29 times in June and July (prior to his July 28 termination).*fn4 (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 12.) Thus, plaintiff was late a total of 54 times during his sixteen-week employment with the Hospital.*fn5

(2) Complaints About Plaintiff's

Behavior by Co-Workers and Others Defendants also have presented evidence that, during plaintiff's sixteen weeks of employment at the Hospital, there were three complaints that plaintiff acted inappropriately or unprofessionally towards co-workers and others, all of which were reported to the Hospital administration. (Raccioppi Decl. ¶¶ 13-17; Lodico Dep. at 10-11; Caputo-Gangemi Dep. at 10-16.) The evidence as to each complaint is summarized below.

First, Ms. Lodico asserts that she complained that plaintiff talked down to her and erroneously accused her in the presence of a patient of having improperly prepared a radiopharmaceutical kit. (Lodico Dep. at 10-11; Lodico Decl. ¶ 6.) Ms. Lodico was upset and felt that plaintiff should not have confronted her regarding patient care in front of the patient, and that he should not have spoken to her in a rude manner. (Lodico Dep. at 10-11; Lodico Decl. ¶ 7.) Ms. Lodico claims to have complained about plaintiff's conduct to Ms. Leszcynski and also personally confronted plaintiff regarding his behavior. (Lodico Decl. ¶ 7.)

Second, Ms. Caputo asserts that she complained to Ms. Leszczynski that the manner in which plaintiff spoke to her was "in a demeaning and rude fashion," some of which occassions were in the presence of patients. (Caputo-Gangemi Decl. ¶¶ 8-9; see also Caputo-Gangemi Dep. at 10-11.) According to Ms. Caputo, she was upset by the plaintiff's treatment of her and complained to Ms. Leszcynski. (Camputo-Gangemi Decl. ¶ 9; Camputo-Gangemi Dep. at 14-15.) Third, Mr. Raccioppi testified that he received a complaint from a doctor who informed him that plaintiff spoke rudely and unprofessionally to the doctor's secretary, calling her "an idiot." (Raccioppi Dep. at 26-27; Raccioppi Decl. ¶ 17.) According to Raccioppi, the doctor told him that he was furious about the manner in which plaintiff spoke to his secretary. (Raccioppi Dep. at 27; Raccioppi Decl. ¶ 17.)

In addition to these complaints, Mr. Raccioppi testified that he received a complaint from a Hospital employee that plaintiff was giving results to a patient over the phone in violation of Hospital policy. (Raccioppi Dep. at 28-29; Raccioppi Decl. ¶ 18.)

With respect to each of these incidents, although plaintiff has no evidence to controvert that the complaints were made to management regarding his behavior, plaintiff did testify in his deposition (1) that these incidents with coworkers and others did not occur, (2) that he never had any issues with either Ms. Caputo or Ms. Lodico during his employment, and (3) that he was not notified of these complaints until his termination. (Jean-Louis Dep. at 39-40, 56, 59, 65, 73, 97-102.) Plaintiff further contends that defendants failed to follow their own investigation procedure, which involved investigating claims and bringing the conflicting parties together to resolve problems, when claims were made against plaintiff. (Raccioppi Dep. at 15-18.) Finally, with respect to ...

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