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Green v. New York City Health and Hospital Corp.

January 15, 2008

SHARON GREEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Sharon Green alleges that her former employer, New York City Health and Hospital Corp. ("HHC"), discriminated against her because of her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12010 et seq. ("ADA"), and gender and pregnancy, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k) ("PDA")*fn1 . Green claims that while she was on maternity leave just prior to the birth of her child, HHC wrongfully terminated her. HHC counters that its reasons for terminating Green were non-discriminatory and moves for summary judgment against Green on all her claims. The Court finds that Green was not disabled nor was she discriminated against in violation of Title VII. Plaintiff has failed to raise genuine issues of material fact; accordingly, HHC's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND*fn2

HHC, the municipal hospital and health care system for New York City, hired Green as a provisional computer operator at Harlem Hospital Center on May 22, 1989. Initially, Green's civil service title was provisional Assistant Systems Analyst. She was promoted to provisional Computer Aide on December 23, 1991; and then to provisional Computer Associate (Software), Level I, on December 17, 1992.

The Computer Associate (Software) title is described as a competitive broadbanded title with three assignment levels (I, II, and III). Green was the only provisional employee serving as a Computer Associate (Software), Level I, at Harlem Hospital Center in 1997.

She remained as a provisional employee throughout her employment at HHC, and never held a permanent civil service title. Green completed Civil Service Examination No. 3274 for the Computer Associate (Software) (Systems Analysis and Design) position on May 20, 1997. Green received a qualifying rating and was added to the eligible list for the position as candidate number 44.5 of 66. Thus, Green was eligible for permanent appointment to the position she held provisionally.

On or about June 27, 1997, Green injured her hand as the result of a non-work related car accident. Green chose to use her sick and annual leave after the accident and did not return to work. When this leave was exhausted, Green requested a paid Medical Leave of Absence for an indefinite period of time, citing continued complications from her hand injury. This request was denied on August 1, 1997. Green still did not return to work. On November 12, 1997, Green was retroactively approved for unpaid "family" leave, dating from July 23, 1997 to October 22, 1997. On October 20, 1997, Green applied for maternity leave. Her request for maternity leave was approved from October 23, 1997 to May 22, 1998. In sum, between June 27, 1997 and December 18, 1997, the date of her termination as a provisional Computer Associate (Software), Level I, Green was absent from work at Harlem Hospital Center.

On November 20, 1997, HHC notified Green that a civil service certification pool for the Computer Associate (Software) (System Analyst and Design) position was to take place on November 25, 1997. HHC alerted her to the probability that she would be "bumped" from her provisional post. The memorandum instructed Green to forward her list number for the relevant examination to the human relations department so that she could be considered for permanent appointment to her position.

Green claims that a representative in the human relations department and told her that she would not be considered at the certification pool, unless she could take the position on an immediate full-time basis. Green declined to attend due to her pregnancy. As a result, Green's name was removed from the eligible list for consideration of permanent placement.

On November 25, 1997, HHC selected the candidate placed number one on the eligible list for the Computer Associate Software title. The candidate, a female, completed promotional civil service examination number 3618.*fn3 HHC notified Green of her displacement and termination in a letter dated November 26, 1997, stating that her services in her provisional position were no longer required after December 18, 1997.

On December 16, 1997, the new appointee informed HHC that she was declining the position of Computer Associate (Software), Level I, at Harlem Hospital Center. HHC decided not to select a replacement candidate from the eligible list, which included Green. Instead, in Spring 1998, the position was reclassified to a lower assignment level-Computer Associate (Operations), Level II. HHC claimed that the needs of the department had changed, though it never explained the nature of those changes nor why the reclassification better suited the new requirements. In its Determination and Order After Investigation, dated February 6, 2004, the New York City Commission on Human Rights ("NYCCHR") stated that an Operations, Level II, position paid less than Software, Level I. The NYCCHR postulated that, while the new provisional hiree was performing the same type of work that Green had performed, HHC saved on labor costs.

Green alleges that HHC reclassified her former position in order to prevent her from returning to the position in either a provisional or permanent capacity. She claims that the employee who took the Operations, Level II, position on a provisional basis, Mr. Harold Glacken, left the job because he felt that he was not being paid commensurately with the work he was doing.

In a letter dated December 30, 1997, Plaintiff requested restoration of her name to the Computer Associate (Software) (Systems Analysis and Design) eligible list. HHC restored her to the list on March 13, 1998. This process was repeated twice more. On October 1, 1998 and again on September 21, 1999, Plaintiff declined to attend hiring pools for the Computer Associate Software title, resulting in her name being removed from the eligible list. After each occasion, Plaintiff requested and HHC granted reinstatement to the list.*fn4

After the car accident, Green claims that she was unable to work full-time due to her injury, though, as of approximately June 1998, she was cleared to work on a part-time basis performing light duty. On February 1, 2000, Green's physician encouraged her to return to work full time and resume regular activities. On May 18, 2000, the list for examination number 3274 expired after three years.

Green's discrimination claims center on her termination during her maternity leave. According to Green, HHC discriminated against her based on her pregnancy and the injury she sustained in the car accident in violation of the ADA; and discriminated based on her gender based on Title VII and the PDA amendment to Title VII. To support her claim of wrongful termination, Green points to the allegedly unnecessary and meritless reclassification of her Computer Associate (Software) position upon the reopening of the post in late 1997 and early 1998. Green claims that HHC failed to reasonably accommodate her because it did not consider her candidacy for her former position ...


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