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Goldvekht v. Alhonote

September 1, 2009

SIMON GOLDVEKHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MS. LINDA ALHONOTE, PRINCIPAL OF P.S. 254; N.Y.C. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge

ELECTRONIC PUBLICATION ONLY

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Simon Goldvekht brings this pro se action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") alleging that Linda Alhonote, the principal of Public School 254 ("P.S. 254") in Brooklyn, and the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York ("Board") discriminated against him because of his age and his national origin. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Goldvekht, who was born on March 4, 1950, is a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union. He works as a paraprofessional at P.S. 254. On February 13, 2009, Goldvekht filed a form complaint, supplemented by numerous attachments.

The documents attached to the form complaint describe an incident involving Goldvekht and a student*fn1 that occurred on April 7, 2006. The student claimed that Goldvekht physically abused her by pulling her arm in an attempt to take her to Mr. St. Mark, a school counselor, following an incident of disruptive behavior in class. Two other adults, a Mr. Weinstein and a Ms. LoSquadro, were present in the room when this incident occurred. On April 12, 2006, Goldvekht, accompanied by his union representative, met with principal Linda Alhonote to discuss the incident. In a written statement dated April 15, 2006, Goldvekht claimed that the complaining student and another student who witnessed the incident had submitted false statements, and that a third student had been coached into making false statements by the complaining student. Alhonote then drafted a disciplinary letter, dated April 28, 2006, concluding that Goldvekht had pulled the student's arm in violation of Chancellor's Regulation A-420. On May 18, 2006, Goldvekht signed a copy of the letter indicating that he had received it and understood that a copy would be placed in his file.

Following this incident, Goldvekht sent three letters to Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers ("UFT"), Goldvekht's union. He complained that Alhonote's decision was biased and failed to consider Goldvekht's account of the incident and requesting that UFT investigate the incident. When he personally delivered the third letter to her office, he was told to contact UFT's District 22 Representative, Fred Gross. Goldvekht says that he met with Gross on June 28 and was told that UFT would not investigate the incident because Goldvekht had not lost his job as a result of it. Goldvekht opined that Alhonote had a "biased opinion" of him and his performance, as indicated by the June 2006 End Term Evaluation he attached to his letter. Compl. 100.*fn2 In this evaluation, Alhonote described Goldvekht's attendance and punctuality as merely satisfactory, and his performance in all other categories, as well as his overall performance, as "good." Compl. 10. Goldvekht signed the evaluation on June 26, 2006, but wrote that he disagreed with it, specifically noting that he took only one personal day during the 2005-2006 school year and had never been late.

On October 15, 2006, Goldvekht again wrote to Gross, this time to file "an official grievance" against Alhonote for her handling of the April 7 incident and to demand that Alhonote remove the disciplinary letter from her file. Compl. 102. He alleged that Alhonote threatened him "with termination of employment on numerous occasions for proceeding with this matter." Id. at 103.

In December 2007, Goldvekht wrote to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), stating that Alhonote "holds a biased opinion" of Goldvekht and his performance. Id. at 66. When he complained to her that the disciplinary letter had prevented him from getting a job elsewhere, she openly stated that the reason I would not get a job elsewhere was not my record, but rather my Jewish-Russian accent. Prior to this statement, principal Alhonote on a number of occasions has made fun of, and some derogatory remarks regarding my accent, although she appears to have no problem with teachers with Asian, German, Australian, and British accents in their English pronunciation.

Id.

Also attached to Goldvekht's complaint is an EEOC charge form dated January 28, 2008. It names both Alhonote and UFT as the parties who discriminated against him, and indicates age and national origin as the bases for discrimination. It lists April 9, 2006 as the earliest date of discrimination and November 5, 2007 as the latest date, and indicates that the discrimination is ongoing.

In a February 23, 2008 letter to Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the EEOC, Goldvekht detailed the problems he had finding better employment following the disciplinary action. At an unspecified time in 2006, Goldvekht interviewed for a music teacher position at P.S. 225 in Brooklyn. After two interviews, Principal Montebello offered Goldvekht a part-time position until the end of the school year and a full-time position when the new school year began. Goldvekht declined the former position, stating that he did not wish to disrupt his current students' work, and Montebello told him to come to the school on August 29, 2006 to make arrangements regarding the full-time position. When Goldvekht arrived in August, Montebello was "unsmiling and distant, and curtly informed [Goldvekht] that he hired someone else" for the position. Compl. 82.

When Alhonote asked Goldvekht about the meeting, he told her he believed he had lost the position because of the letter in his file, and Alhonote opined that he was turned down because of his "Russian-Jewish accent." Id. When Goldvekht informed her that the past and current teachers at P.S. 225 were also Russian immigrants, "Ms. Alhonote replied with a silent sneer and walked off." Id. at 83.

In the February 23, 2008 letter to the EEOC, Goldvekht also describes three other unsuccessful attempts to secure employment. Although Goldvekht does not mention specific dates, it appears (and Goldvekht confirmed as much at oral argument) that these incidents also occurred in 2006. Specifically, Goldvekht says he "next" gave his resume to a principal's administrative assistant at P.S. 253. Id. at 83. After being told his name, she said the principal was too busy to meet with him. The principal then entered the room, asked the ...


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