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Mohan v. Target

September 8, 2009

KIM MOHAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On December 15, 2004, Plaintiff Kim Mohan filed her complaint in this action, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and of the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL").

On January 8, 2007, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion will be granted with regard to Plaintiff's federal claims and Plaintiff's state law claims will be dismissed without prejudice.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Because of the applicable federal statute of limitations, many of Plaintiff's factual allegations and several of her federal claims are time-barred. The following recitation therefore serves as general background. Further facts, when necessary, are discussed in the context of the asserted claims.

Defendant is a publicly-traded corporation that operates retail stores in New York (and other states), including store T1011 (the "Eastern Hills store"), store T1012 (the "Niagara Falls store"), and store T1013 (the "Delaware store"). (Defendant's Statement of Facts, Docket No. 23, ¶ 2.)*fn2

Plaintiff began working for Defendant at its Eastern Hills store on September 3, 1996. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 4.) On March 27, 1997, Plaintiff was promoted to the position of Sales Floor Team Leader and received a salary increase. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 6.) Executive Team Leader Kathy Denny was Plaintiff's supervisor from 1998 until Denny's employment ended in 2002, at which point Daphne Thompson became Plaintiff's supervisor. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 23--25.)

On or about January 12, 2003, Plaintiff met with Ariel Acuna, the Human Resources Representative responsible for the Eastern Hills store, and another executive, Jerry Green. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 26, 27.) Plaintiff complained to Acuna and Green that store manager*fn3 Jim Smith was harassing her, and she asked to be transferred to another store. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 27, 35.) Plaintiff sent Acuna copies of selected pages from her daily planner, which purportedly documented incidents of harassment to which Plaintiff "took offense." (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 28, 29.) Although Plaintiff noted that Smith made several comments about her job performance, nowhere in Plaintiff's planner is there any reference to Smith making sexual or sexually offensive comments to her, nor does the planner refer to Smith touching Plaintiff in any way at any time. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 30-32.) Plaintiff admits that Smith never invited her on a date, never propositioned her sexually, and never said or did anything that indicated he had sexual intentions or feelings toward her.*fn4 (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 33, 34.)

Based on Plaintiff's complaint, Acuna conducted an investigation using personnel from outside of the district and outside of the Eastern Hills store. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 36, 37.) Smith did not participate in the investigation. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 37.) Defendant placed Plaintiff on a two-week, paid leave-of-absence from February 20 to March 12, 2003, while Acuna conducted the investigation. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 38.)

At the end of her two-week leave period, Plaintiff transferred to the Delaware store as she requested, with no loss of pay or benefits. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 35, 39, 40.) Smith never worked at the Delaware store, nor was he involved in the transfer decision. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 42-43.) None of the Executive Team Leaders at the Delaware store indicated that they were aware of Plaintiff's previous complaint about Smith, nor did they ever say they had spoken to Smith about Plaintiff's employment at the Eastern Hills store. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 49, 50.) Moreover, employees at the Delaware store never said anything sexually offensive. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 45-48.) Plaintiff contends, however, that several employees at the Delaware store would purposefully mention Smith's name to her or reference the Eastern Hills store. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶¶ 45--46, 50.)

On or about November 24, 2003, Plaintiff wrote a formal letter of resignation stating that she enjoyed the seven months she worked at the Delaware store and enjoyed working for the Delaware store manager, Ben Gregory. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 73.) Plaintiff also completed a voluntary resignation form, indicating that she was leaving for a "career move and more money." (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 74.) Plaintiff worked the full two-week notice period before leaving Defendant's employ on December 8, 2003. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 75, 76.) Two days later, Plaintiff began working at Sears, and subsequently resigned from Sears to work for Big Lots Stores as an Assistant Store Manager. (Defendant's Statement, ¶¶ 85--86.)

Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination pro se with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on June 9, 2004. (Defendant's Statement, ¶ 77.) Plaintiff checked the boxes for 'Retaliation' and 'Sex,' and included the following statement:

I began working for [Defendant] on or about September 3, 1996. My most recent position was as a team leader.

Beginning in or around June 2002 and continuing until on or about December 8, 2003, I was subjected to a sexually offensive, intimidating, and hostile work environment at the hands of the store manager. The offensive and unwelcome behavior took the form of touching, comments, and leering. When I complained to management regarding the harassment they failed to take prompt, effective, or remedial action. In fact, I was subjected to retaliatory action in the form of harassment and intimidation. My work was criticized in meetings, pictures were taken of my department, I was followed around the store by security, and co-workers would walk through my department and critique my work.

On or about March 13, 2003, [Defendant] transferred me to another store, however the harassment and intimidation continued. As an example I would remove expired product off the floor and it would be placed back on the floor. I felt that this was a way of setting me up. Upon information and belief my prior store manager had influence at my new location.

On or about December 8, 2003, I resigned because of the harassment and intimidation and because ...


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