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Merhige-Murphy v. Vicon Industries

January 7, 2008

MONIQUE MERHIGE-MURPHY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VICON INDUSTRIES, INC. AND BRET MCGOWAN, INDVIDUAL, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Feuerstein, J.

OPINION & ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Monique Merhige-Murphy ("Plaintiff") commenced this action against Vicon Industries, Inc. ("Vicon") and Bret McGowan ("McGowan," and collectively, "Defendants"), seeking damages against Defendants for gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to e-17 ("Title VII"), and the New York State Executive Law, Human Rights Law § 290 et seq. ("NYSHRL"), and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Defendants move for dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff, a female, was employed by Vicon as a field marketing manager beginning in April, 2005. In March 2006, Plaintiff met separately with Kristen Dorr ("Dorr"), Vicon's human resources manager, and Ken Darby ("Darby"), its CEO, to discuss a promotion to the position of marketing director. On or about March 20, 2006, Ray Palatta ("Palatta"), a graphic designer at Vicon, referred to Plaintiff's "fat ass." Compl. p. 5; Palatta Aff., Mot. Exh. D. On or about April 17, 2006, Palatta allegedly remarked that Plaintiff "does nothing all day except eat doughnuts." Compl. p. 6. During an April 17, 2006 meeting with McGowan, Plaintiff was informed that her request for a promotion was denied. On May 2, 2006, McGowan terminated Plaintiff's employment with Vicon.

Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 12, 2006, received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on January 29, 2007, and filed the instant complaint on April 12, 2007.

III. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must liberally construe the claims, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Roth v. Jennings, 489 F.3d 499, 510 (2d Cir. 2007). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 378 (2d Cir.1995) (internal quotations and citation omitted). In other words, "'the office of a motion to dismiss is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof."' Eternity Global Master Fund Ltd. v. Morgan Guar. Trust Co. of New York, 375 F.3d 168, 176 (2d Cir. 2004) (quoting Geisler v. Petrocelli, 616 F.2d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 1980)). However, in order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007); Patane v. Clark, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 27391 (2d Cir. 2007).

B. The Individual Defendant

Plaintiff brings claims under Title VII and NYSHRL against Defendant Bret McGowan in his individual capacity.

1. Title VII

Individuals in supervisory positions are not subject to personal liability under Title VII, Tomka v. Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1317 (2d Cir. 1995). Thus, Plaintiff's claims ...


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