UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
April 14, 2010
STEPHEN MAURO, PLAINTIFF,
NYC TRANSIT AUTHORITY AND MANHATTAN AND BRONX SURFACE AUTHORITY, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge
OPINION & ORDER
Pro se plaintiff Stephen Mauro brings this action against defendants New York City Transit Authority ("NYCTA") and Manhattan and Bronx Surface Authority, properly known as Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority ("MaBSTOA") (collectively, "defendants"), for employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"). On January 14, 2010, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's April 24, 2009 complaint. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is granted.
The following facts, taken from the complaint and documents integral to the face of the complaint, are assumed to be true or presented in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.*fn1
Plaintiff, who is 55 years old and of Hispanic descent, was hired by MaBSTOA as a cleaner in January 2006. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that he worked in this position until he resigned in April 2006.*fn2 Plaintiff then applied for, but was subsequently denied, a job as a bus driver with the NYCTA.*fn3
On January 27, 2009, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging violations of Title VII and the ADEA.*fn4
Plaintiff's charge alleged that he was denied the bus driver job because of his age and Hispanic background and asserted that black former MaBSTOA cleaners have been hired as bus drivers by the NYCTA -- even if they had been fired by MaBSTOA -- whereas plaintiff was not able to make such a "transfer." The charge indicated that the discrimination against him took place between May and August of 2006. On March 31, 2009, the EEOC issued plaintiff a right-to-sue letter, which noted that the EEOC was unable to determine whether any Title VII or ADEA violations had occurred.
In his complaint, plaintiff asserts claims of employment discrimination based on race, gender, sex, and age pursuant to Title VII, the ADEA, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL. The complaint indicates that the discrimination against him took place in April 2007, rather than the May through August 2006 dates listed on his EEOC charge. The defendants' motion to dismiss became fully submitted on February 25, 2010.
Under the pleading standard set forth in Rule 8(a)(2), complaints must include a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "[A] plaintiff is required only to give a defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Leibowitz v. Cornell Univ., 445 F.3d 586, 591 (2d Cir. 2006). Moreover, pleadings filed by pro se plaintiffs are to be construed liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) ("[A] pro se complaint . . . must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." (citation omitted)); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) ("Even after Twombly, . . . we remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally.").
A trial court considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must "accept as true all factual statements alleged in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party." Vietnam Ass'n for Victims of Agent Orange v. Dow Chem. Co., 517 F.3d 104, 115 (2d Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). To survive such a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted). Applying the plausibility standard is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.
Plaintiffs bringing suit in federal court under either Title VII or the ADEA are subject to exhaustion requirements requiring that they first timely file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or an authorized state agency. McPherson v. N.Y. City Dep't of Educ., 457 F.3d 211, 213 (2d Cir. 2006). Under both statutes, for discriminatory practices occurring within the State of New York, the EEOC charge must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct to be considered timely.
29 U.S.C. § 626(1)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); see Ragone v. Atl. Video at the Manhattan Ctr., 595 F.3d 115, 126 (2d Cir. 2010). Second, as a prerequisite to filing a Title VII suit, plaintiff must receive a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. Williams v. N.Y. Hous. Auth., 458 F.3d 67, 69 (2d Cir. 2006). For ADEA claims, however, no right-to-sue letter is required, and a complainant may exhaust the administrative process merely by allowing his charge to remain "pending with the EEOC for at least 60 days." McPherson, 457 F.3d at 215.
Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because of his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies properly through timely filing an EEOC charge. Although plaintiff's EEOC charge and complaint contain several inconsistencies with respect to dates, his EEOC complaint was untimely even if the dates most favorable to plaintiff are adopted. Well over 300 days elapsed between April 2007 -- the latest date on which plaintiff alleged any act of discrimination took place -- and January 27, 2009, the date that the EEOC charge was filed.
In opposing the defendants' motion, plaintiff argues that his claim was timely because he received the EEOC's right-to-sue letter on March 31, 2009, and promptly filed his federal claim on April 24, 2009. Plaintiff's argument overlooks the difference between the timely filing of an EEOC charge and that of a federal lawsuit. While the plaintiff timely filed his federal lawsuit within ninety days upon receipt of the EEOC right-to-sue letter, such a letter "enables a private suit only if it is issued in connection with an administrative charge that is timely filed." McPherson, 457 F.3d at 214. Here, plaintiff's EEOC charge was not timely filed, and thus, his federal claim is time-barred.*fn5
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