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Matthews v. Corning Inc.

September 16, 2010

SUZANNE M. MATTHEWS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORNING INCORPORATED, DAVID DAWSON-ELLI, MICHAEL MOORE, CYNTHIA GIROUX, MARC GIROUX, AS AIDER AND ABETTORS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Suzanne Matthews ("Matthews"), proceeding pro se, brings this action alleging that defendants Corning Incorporated ("Corning"), David Dawson-Elli, Michael Moore, Cynthia Giroux, and Marc Giroux (collectively the "defendants"), discriminated and retaliated against her with respect to her employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law §239 et seq.

In summary, Matthews alleges that while she was employed with Corning's Melting Department, her supervisor, other department heads and a production superintendent discriminated against her on the basis of her gender by harassing her and denying her promotion opportunities, and retaliated against her for complaining about the allegedly gender-based denial of a promotion.

On May 1, 2007, Matthews filed a charge of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"), which charge was also filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In that charge, Matthews alleged that Corning had subjected her to sex-based discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC found that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate Matthews' claims, and issued a right to sue letter on April 29, 2008.

The instant action was initiated on July 23, 2008. The defendants now move for dismissal of some of Matthews' claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6), on the grounds that those claims are insufficiently stated and/or untimely. For the reasons set forth below, the District's motion to dismiss (Dkt. #53) is granted, and the claims set forth in paragraphs 18-67 of the Amended Complaint are dismissed.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Dismissal Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6)

In deciding whether a complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6), a court must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant." Sheppard v. Beerman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994), citing Ad-Hoc Comm. of Baruch Black & Hispanic Alumni Ass'n v. Bernard M. Baruch College, 835 F.2d 980, 982 (2d Cir. 1987). However, "a plaintiff's obligation . . . requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, "[t]o withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must plead facts sufficient to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Lueck v. Progressive Ins., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96492 at *4 (W.D.N.Y. 2009), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. 544 at 570.

II. Matthews' Claims

In Paragraphs 18-67 of the Amended Complaint Are Time-Barred Initially, Matthews' Title VII claims for denial of promotions, discrimination, and retaliation -- all of the claims set forth in paragraphs 18-67 of the Amended Complaint (Dkt. #16-1, #50) are time-barred. Where a plaintiff fails to file an administrative charge within 300 days of the complained-of actions, the plaintiff is barred from thereafter initiating a lawsuit in federal court based upon those actions. See 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5; McDonnell Douglas Corp., 411 U.S. 792 at 798-99; McCahill v. Schottenstein Corp., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5782 at *3-*4 (W.D.N.Y. 2005), citing Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 152 (1984) ("[p]rocedural requirements established by Congress for gaining access to the federal courts are not to be disregarded by courts out of a vague sense of sympathy for particular litigants").

The 300-day limitation period begins to run, for each discrete act of alleged discrimination or retaliation, on the date that the act -- such as termination, failure to promote, or refusal to hire -- takes place. See AMTRAK v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 114 (2002).

In this case, Matthews filed her initial charge of discrimination with the NYSDHR on April 30, 2007. Thus, only acts occurring in the preceding 300 days -- that is, acts which occurred on or after July 4, 2006 -- are actionable. Accordingly, Matthews' allegations of discrimination and retaliation in paragraphs 18-67 of the Amended Complaint, including denial of particular promotions in 1996, 2005 and June 2006, specific changes to her job responsibilities in 1996, January 2006 and June 2006, and retaliatory conduct in 1996 and April 2005 are time-barred. Matthews' claims of hostile work environment premised upon activities which she describes between 2005 and June 2006 are also untimely.

Matthews initially concedes the untimeliness of the claims at issue, but suggests that her non-compliance should be excused, inter alia, because the defendants' conduct constituted a continuing violation. Under the continuing violation exception to the 300-day limitations period, "a plaintiff who files a timely EEOC charge about a particular discriminatory act committed in furtherance of an ongoing policy of discrimination extends the limitations period for all claims of discriminatory acts committed under the policy" even if ...


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