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Bryant v. Delphi Automotive Systems Corp.

March 22, 2010

RUSSELL BRYANT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DELPHI AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS CORP., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Russel Bryant ("plaintiff"), proceeding pro se brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §2000(e) et seq. against Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. ("Delphi" and/or "defendant") claiming that he was discriminated against by Delphi on the basis of his sex. Specifically, plaintiff claims that Delphi intentionally discriminated against him when he was terminated based upon allegations of two female employees who claimed that he had touched/hit them. Defendant denies plaintiff's allegations, and moves for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's Complaint on grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of gender discrimination. Further, defendant contends that even if plaintiff were able to prove a prima facie case of discrimination, Delphi articulated a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its decision to discharge him and plaintiff failed to establish that Delphi's stated reason was pretextual. Plaintiff has opposed defendant's motion by submitting numerous pages of documents and exhibits essentially claiming that he should not have been discharged since it was due to other co-workers' lies that resulted in his termination. For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismiss plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual History

Plaintiff started working for Delphi*fn1 as a temporary hourly employee on November 21, 2006. See DSOF, ¶2. On May 21, 2007, employees Tashara Levans ("Levans") and Pamela Monroe ("Monroe") complained to their supervisor, Frank Griffin ("Griffin") that earlier in the day, plaintiff entered the break room, started yelling at Levans accusing her of telling Griffin that plaintiff made remarks about Griffin's wife, particularly the length of her skirt. See id., ¶17. Thereafter, plaintiff pushed Levans in the face. See id., ¶18. After the two were separated by co-workers who were also in the break room, plaintiff turned to Monroe and started yelling at her and claiming that she informed Griffin about his remarks. See id. On the same day, Griffin, plaintiff's immediate supervisor, advised Thomas Redmond ("Redmond"), Delphi's Senior Labor Relations Representative that two of plaintiff's female co-workers had complained about an altercation they had with plaintiff in Delphi's break room. See id., ¶¶12-13.

As soon as Redmond was informed of the incident, he began an investigation. See id., ¶14. In this regard, Redmond interviewed plaintiff who was accompanied by his union representative, David Kittle. See id., ¶15.*fn2 At the meeting, plaintiff admitted that he was "pissed off" that someone would report the comments he made about his supervisor to his supervisor. See id. In addition, plaintiff conceded that there was yelling between the co-workers. However, plaintiff denied pushing Levans and instead stated that he "put [his] finger in [Levans] face." See id. The following day, Redmond interviewed Levans and Monroe, who both verbally acknowledged and provided written statements confirming that plaintiff had threatened both of them and pushed Levans. See id., ¶¶16-18. As a result of the events of May 21, 2007, defendant suspended plaintiff pending completion of its investigation into the incident.

Delphi's Shop Rule #20 prohibits an employee from "[t]hreatening, intimidating, coercing or interfering with employees" of Delphi. See id., ¶20. Based on the information revealed during the investigation, defendant determined that credible evidence showed that plaintiff had (1) verbally assaulted and threatened both Levans and Monroe, and (2) physically assaulted Levans. See id., ¶21. Accordingly, defendant found that plaintiff had committed a serious violation of Shop Rule #20. Because the offense was serious, effective May 24, 2007, plaintiff was terminated by Delphi. Plaintiff was sent a Notice of Discharge from Delphi by certified mail on May 25, 2007.

II. Procedural History

On or about August 16, 2007, plaintiff filed a charge of gender and race discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See DSOF, ¶6. The NYSDHR dismissed plaintiff's complaint on February 4, 2008 determining that there was no probable cause to believe that Delphi engaged in the discriminatory practice complained of. See id., ¶7. The EEOC adopted the NYSDHR's findings, dismissed plaintiff's charge of discrimination and on April 17, 2008 issued him a right-to-sue notice. See id., ¶8. Thereafter, plaintiff commenced this lawsuit by filing the Complaint pro se on May 16, 2008. See id., ¶9. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that his discharge from Delphi was based solely on gender discrimination. See id., ¶10. Delphi filed its Answer to plaintiff's Complaint on October 16, 2008 denying all material allegations of the Complaint.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

The Court may grant summary judgment only where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and...the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue is genuine if the relevant evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of identifying those portions of the record that the moving party believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to a dispositive issue. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

If the movant is able to establish a prima facie basis for summary judgment, the burden of production shifts to the party opposing summary judgment who must produce evidence establishing the existence of a factual dispute that a reasonable jury could resolve in his favor. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The nonmoving party must show, by affidavits or other evidence, admissible in form, that there are specific factual issues that can only be resolved at trial. See Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir.1995). Where, as here, the party opposing summary judgment is proceeding pro se, the Court must "read the pleadings...liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest."

Corcoran v. New York Power Auth., 202 F.3d 530, 536 (2d Cir.1999). Nevertheless, "proceeding pro se does not otherwise relieve [an opposing party] from the usual requirements of summary judgment." Viscusi v. Proctor & Gamble, 2007 WL 2071546, at *9 (E.D.N.Y.2007). Those requirements include the obligation not to rest upon mere conclusory allegations or denials, but instead to set forth "concrete particulars" showing that a trial is needed. See R.G. Group, Inc. v. Horn & Hardart Co., 751 F.2d 69, 77 (2d Cir.1984).

In determining whether to grant summary judgment, the Court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, but "only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007). "When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Id. at 1776. The nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment by "simply show[ing] that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, or by a factual argument based on "conjecture or surmise." Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir.1991). In this regard, a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon "mere ...


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