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Intermor v. Long Island Water Corp.

March 29, 2010

JOSEPH INTERMOR, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONG ISLAND WATER CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff, Joseph Intermor, Jr. ("Plaintiff" or "Intermor"), brought this action pursuant to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), New York State Executive Law § 290 et seq. ("NYHRL"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 624 et seq. ("ADEA"), and New York Labor Law § 193. Subsequently, Defendant filed a motion for sanctions and a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rules 11 and 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and its motion for sanctions is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on December 10, 1957. On or about December 16, 1985, Plaintiff began working for Long Island Water Corporation ("LIWC") in the position of Car Washer. (Def's 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 2.) In or about 1999, Plaintiffs title was changed to Assistant Mechanic, and he worked the afternoon/evening shift. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.) Plaintiff was the only person in the Assistant Mechanic position. (Id. ¶ 4.)

In November of 2007, LIWC began preparing for negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement with Plaintiff's labor union, the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 365 ("Union"), which would become effective as of January 1, 2008 ("2008 CBA"). (Id. ¶ 7.) As LIWC's President, William Varley ("Varley") is charged with controlling costs and has a responsibility to the LIWC's shareholders, to operate efficiently and to maximize profits. (Id. ¶¶ 8-10.) Two existing Mechanic B positions in the production department had been negotiated and created under a prior collective bargaining agreement. (Id. ¶ 13.) The two mechanics in these positions ("Mechanics") were often called in on overtime to maintain critical equipment and service problems in the evenings and on weekends. (Id. ¶ 14.) Varley calculated that the creation of a third Mechanic B position working evening shifts would lower the amount of overtime worked by the two existing Mechanics and result in a cost savings to LIWC. (Id. ¶ 15.) He also concluded that the creation of a third Mechanic B position working evening shifts would also provide a stop gap measure to ensure that LIWC could make prompt repairs and supply water, in the event of equipment failure. (Id. ¶ 16.) However, not wanting to add LIWC employees, Varley proposed to the Union that they eliminate Plaintiff's position, and transferring him to a Mechanic B position instead. The Union agreed. (Id. ¶¶ 17-25.) Plaintiff had never worked in the Company's Production Department and did not have experience working on the equipment serviced by mechanics in the Production Department. (Id. ¶ 28.)

Because Plaintiff had not previously worked as a Mechanic B, LIWC proposed a three-year progressive increase in salary into the full rate for the position. (Id. ¶ 29.) The Union agreed to the proposed three-year rate progression. (Id. ¶ 30.) The three-year rate states that: "The incumbent's wages shall be adjusted in a three year progression during which time his base wage will increase by $1.475 per hour exclusive of the general wage increase." (Id. ¶ 31.) At some point thereafter, the Union told Plaintiff that the Assistant Mechanic position would be eliminated under the proposed CBA and that he could either leave with a severance package or transfer to the Mechanic B position. Plaintiff chose the transfer, and when the Union membership voted on the CBA, Plaintiff cast his vote to approve. (Id. ¶¶ 36-46.)

In the first year in the Mechanic B position, Plaintiff earned more than in his prior position as Assistant Mechanic. (Id. ¶ 32.) During the second year of his employment in the Mechanic B position, Plaintiff filed a grievance with the Union, objecting to the progressive increase in salary. Thereafter, Plaintiff was paid all of the money he was owed. (Id. ¶¶ 52-56.) He remains employed as a Mechanic B.

Plaintiff claims that, although he was later paid all of the money he was owed and had less experience in the Mechanic B position than the others in that position, he is being treated differently because of his age. Defendant maintains that

(1) Plaintiff's claims are entirely frivolous, and has filed a motion for sanctions, and (2) even if the Amended Complaint is not entirely frivolous, the case is appropriate for disposition on summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion For Summary Judgment

A. Rule 56: Standard Of Review

A district court may properly grant summary judgment only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed. 2d 265 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986); McLee v. Chrysler Corp., 109 F.3d 130, 134 (2d Cir. 1997). The burden of proof is on the moving party to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., L.P., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994) (citing Heyman v. Commerce & Indus. Ins. Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1320 (2d Cir. 1975)). "In assessing the record to determine whether there is a genuine issue to be tried... the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought." McLee v. Chrysler Corp., 109 F.3d 130, 134 (2d Cir. 1997).

B. Discrimination Charge Filing Requirement For Title VII And ADEA

A mandatory prerequisite to seeking federal relief under Title VII or the ADEA is the timely filing of a discrimination charge with the EEOC. See Paneccasio v. Unisource Worldwide, Inc., No. 06-CV-3950, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 15400, at *26 (2d Cir. July 7, 2008); Legnani v. Alitalia Linee Aeree Italiane, S.P.A., 274 F.3d 683, 686 (2d Cir. 2001). The discrimination charge must be filed within ...


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