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Arnold v. Beth Abraham Health Services

May 28, 2010

ANDREW ARNOLD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BETH ABRAHAM HEALTH SERVICES, INC., YONI KONO, MAUREEN CONNOLLY, KERI FRAZIER-WHITE, AND 1199 SEIU, DEFENDANTS.



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

OPINION & ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Andrew Arnold ("Arnold" or "plaintiff") brings suit alleging that he was fired because of his federal jury service in violation of the Jury System Improvements Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1875 (the "Jury Act"). Named as defendants are Arnold's former employer, Beth Abraham Health Services, Inc. ("Beth Abraham"); three Beth Abraham administrators, Yoni Kono ("Kono"), Maureen Connolly ("Connolly"), and Keri Frazier-White ("Frazier-White") (collectively, with Beth Abraham, the "Beth Abraham defendants"); and 1199 SEIU (the "Union").*fn1 On February 16 and 18, the Union and the Beth Abraham defendants, respectively, moved to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint. For the following reasons, the Union's motion is granted and the Beth Abraham defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The facts below -- taken from the plaintiff's amended complaint, materials attached to the complaint, and plaintiff's opposition papers -- are assumed to be true for the purposes of resolving the defendants' motions. Additional detail is provided in this Court's Opinions in the related cases of Arnold v. 1199 SEIU, No. 09 Civ. 5576 (DLC), 2009 WL 4823906 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2009) ("the Arnold I Opinion"), and Arnold v. Beth Abraham Health Servs., Inc., No. 09 Civ. 6049 (DLC), 2009 WL 5171736 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 30, 2009) ("the Arnold II Opinion").

Arnold was employed by Beth Abraham as an "Authorization Specialist" from 1997 until he was fired on April 5, 2007. While working at Beth Abraham, plaintiff was a member of the Union.*fn2 On Friday, March 30, 2007, Arnold was informed by a supervisor that his request to take vacation that day, March 30, had been approved. Arnold declined to take the vacation day, however, and told his supervisor that he wished to "reschedule for a later date." When his supervisor agreed in principle to that request, Arnold took that as an "admission" that Beth Abraham did not have any plans to fire him at that time, because "otherwise they would have expressed reservation about rescheduling his vacation for a future date."

In the afternoon later that same day, Arnold informed Kono, a Beth Abraham manager, that he was scheduled to serve jury duty the following Monday, April 2, and gave her a copy of his jury summons. Kono then stressed to Arnold the importance of promptly giving notice about any scheduled jury service, and Arnold concedes that he was "untimely" in notifying Beth Abraham of his April 2 jury duty.

On Monday, April 2, 2007, Arnold began federal jury service in this courthouse. On April 5, 2007, Arnold returned to work while on a break from jury service. When he returned, Kono asked Arnold about the status of his jury service obligation, and Arnold replied that "[he] will be serving for a long time," because he had been told that he was selected to serve on a federal grand jury.*fn3

Later that day, Arnold was directed to go to Human Resources. Once there, Frazier-White informed Arnold that he was being fired, effective immediately, because of his poor work performance. In his amended complaint, Arnold asserts that this proffered reason was "entirely pre-textual" and that Arnold was, in fact, fired for fulfilling his jury service. As of the date he was fired, Arnold had expected to perform "further service on a federal grand jury," which Arnold alleges "would have taken him away from his job duties for what was believed to be a considerable amount of time." Plaintiff contends that these facts show a violation of the Jury Act by both the Beth Abraham defendants and the Union.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Litigation concerning Beth Abraham's firing of Arnold has been ongoing in various fora since his employment ended on April 5, 2007. On or about July 3 of that year, Arnold filed a verified complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("the Agency") charging Beth Abraham with unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). Arnold's verified complaint also asserted that Arnold was fired because he was selected to serve on a federal grand jury. By Order of February 7, 2008, the Agency concluded that it had jurisdiction and made a determination that there was probable cause for Arnold's charge of sex discrimination. Following a request to reopen filed by Beth Abraham on April 15, 2008, the Agency reopened the case and issued a revised final determination of "NO PROBABLE CAUSE" on May 30, 2008 (the "Agency Determination"). The Agency Determination concluded that there was insufficient evidence of sex discrimination in the record and observed that the NYSHRL does not protect employees against discrimination based on jury service.

On July 28, 2008, Arnold filed a verified complaint and Article 78 petition in New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, seeking judicial review of the Agency Determination. By Decision and Order of December 16, 2008 (the "Article 78 Decision"), the state court dismissed Arnold's Article 78 petition. Arnold appealed to the Appellate Division, which affirmed the Article 78 Decision on February 25, 2010. See Arnold v. N.Y. State Div. of Human Rights, 70 A.D.3d 605, 894 N.Y.S.2d 432 (N.Y. App. Div. 2010) (the "Appellate Division Decision").

On or about August 6, 2009, Arnold filed a complaint with this Court's Pro Se Office alleging a violation of the Jury Act, thereby initiating the instant lawsuit ("Arnold IV" or "this lawsuit"). This lawsuit was assigned to this Court on the basis that it was related to three other cases filed by Arnold then pending before this Court: Arnold v. 1199 SEIU, No. 09 Civ. 5576 (DLC) ("Arnold I"), Arnold v. Beth Abraham Health Services, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 6049 (DLC) ("Arnold II"),*fn4 and Arnold v. Beth Abraham Health Services, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 6995 (DLC) ("Arnold III").*fn5 On November 10 and November 16, 2009, counsel for the Beth Abraham defendants and the Union, respectively, requested that these cases be consolidated.*fn6 By Orders of November 12 and November 17, the Court directed Arnold to respond with his reasons, if any, why the defendants' requests for consolidation should not be granted. In his response, Arnold opposed the application for consolidation and requested leave to amend the complaint in this lawsuit. By Order of December 7, plaintiff was directed to file and serve his amended complaint in this lawsuit by January 22, 2010. On December 30, following the dismissals of Arnold I and Arnold II and the issuance of a show-cause order in Arnold III, the Court denied defendants' applications for consolidation.

Arnold filed his amended complaint in this lawsuit (the "Complaint") on January 21, 2010. In the Complaint, Arnold contends that the termination of his employment was "a result of Plaintiff's decision to fulfill his Federal Jury service obligation." The Complaint seeks entry of judgment, injunctive ...


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