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Alexander Ikejiaku v. Rochester City School District

March 22, 2011


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



Plaintiff, Alexander Ikejiaku ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-18, alleging employment discrimination on the basis of his race (African American), color (Black) and national origin (Nigerian). See Compl. (Docket #1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that his former employer, the Rochester City School District ("Defendant" or "the District"), discriminated against him by failing to classify his position in the appropriate pay bracket and failing to grant him the salary increases and promotions he sought. Id. at 16-28. He further alleges that Defendant refused to include his name on a list of individuals who had earned certification as School Business Administrators ("SBA"), and that this failure prevented him from being considered for certain promotional opportunities. Id. at 18.

Defendant moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule 56"), arguing that several of Plaintiff's claims are time barred, and that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of discrimination with respect to any of his claims, even those that are time barred. Defendant further argues that, even if Plaintiff had established a prima facie case of discrimination, Defendant has articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for all of its actions with respect to the Plaintiff. See Def. Mem. of Law, (Docket #21-6). Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion, arguing that there are material issues of fact with respect to his discrimination claim and that this Court should consider the claims that are time barred as background evidence. See Pl. Mem. in Support (Docket #23-2). For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of discrimination. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in its entirety, and Plaintiff's Complaint is hereby dismissed with prejudice.


As a preliminary matter, this Court must review the requirements of Local Rule 56.1.*fn1 Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, "Upon any motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, there shall be annexed to the notice of motion a separate, short, and concise statement of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried." See W.D.N.Y. Loc. R. Civ. P. 56.1(a). "The papers opposing a motion for summary judgment shall include a separate, short, and concise statement of the material facts as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried." See id. 56.1(b). "All material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be served by the opposing party." See id. 56.1(c). Accordingly, the moving party is required to submit a statement of facts, which demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the opposing party is required to submit a statement of the facts which are in dispute. Defendant has complied with this requirement. (Docket #12, "Defendant's Statement").

Plaintiff in this case has submitted two documents, one entitled, "Local Rule 56.1 Counter Statement" and one entitled, "Plaintiff's Responses to Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts." (Docket 23, "Plaintiff's Response"). Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1 Counter Statement does not comply with Local Rule 56.1, as it contains facts which are not in dispute, it is not keyed to Defendant's Statement, and it complicates the consideration of the instant motion. Accordingly, this submission will not be considered. Further, Plaintiff's Response, while keyed to Defendant's Statement, is not entirely useful, as the responses are often unrelated to the actual fact asserted and do not point out material issues of fact.

The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 is to streamline the consideration of a summary judgment motion, and this purpose is not accomplished by the submission of duplicative papers which are not in compliance with this Rule. See Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., Inc., 258 F.3d 62, 74 (2d Cir.2001). "While the consequence of this miscue is minimal given the general consensus between the parties [as shown by defendant] as to the constituent facts of this case, where a discrepancy exists this Court is obligated to and will 'deem admitted' the [moving party's] version of the facts. At the same time, the Court is obligated to and will believe the [non-moving party's] evidence and all justifiable inferences will be drawn in [its] favor."' See Kuchar v. Kenmore Mercy Hosp., 2000 WL 210199, at *1 (W.D.N.Y.2000); See also Duckett 2009 WL 995614, *2 (quoting Kuchar). Accordingly, this Court has reviewed the parties' statements and the entire record, and the Court finds that the following facts, contained in the Complaint, Defendant's Statement, Plaintiff's Responses, and the other relevant evidence of record, are undisputed and relevant to Plaintiff's claims.

Plaintiff was hired as a Principle Management Analyst ("PMA") for the District in 2000, at a starting salary of $68,500. Defendant employed Plaintiff through 2007, when he resigned to take a position in Springfield, Illinois. Due to annual pay increases, Plaintiff's salary was approximately $95,000 when he left the District.

Defendant employs a bracketing system to determine the starting salary of several different categories of employees, including PMA's and Senior Management Analysts ("SMA"). A SMA is ranked lower than a PMA, but, when Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 2000, the two positions were classified within the same bracket. This classification, however, did not determine the actual salary of the employee, it merely provided a range of salaries from which and employee could start. Thereafter, the employee's salary could change, for instance if the employee was offered a raise. The employee's salary was also not limited to the upper end of the bracket. For example, in 2003, the salary bracket for the PMA and SMA positions was $50,000-$90,000. A new PMA or SMA employee could be hired at a salary of $90,000 and could ultimately earn more than $90,000 during his tenure. However, the employee could not start at a salary of more than $90,000.

In 2003, Plaintiff became concerned about the bracketing of the PMA and SMA positions when a Caucasian male was hired as an SMA, and the position fell into the same starting pay bracket as the PMA. The Caucasian male, however, was not paid more than the Plaintiff for the SMA position. Nevertheless, Plaintiff complained that the position should not have been bracketed in the same category as the higher-ranked PMA position.

Plaintiff's union, the Administrators and Supervisors Association of Rochester ("ASAR") agreed that the positions should be placed in different pay brackets. Accordingly, the ASAR bargained with the District to change the classification so that the SMA position was in a lower bracket than the PMA position. The PMA position was then moved to a higher bracket in June 2005, with a starting salary pay range of $55,000-$95,000. Plaintiff, however, continued to believe that his position should have been moved to the highest category, with a starting salary range of $60,000-$100,000.

At this time, Defendant employed three PMA's, the Plaintiff and two Caucasian females who were paid less than Plaintiff at all relevant times. The Defendant did not increase the salaries of any of the PMA's at the time of the salary bracketing agreement with ASAR. Plaintiff, however, had expected that a pay increase would follow the bracketing change, as certain employees in different positions were granted pay increases.

Plaintiff has also alleged several other discrete acts by the Defendant in support of his discrimination claim. First, Plaintiff complains that his name was not added to a list of persons that were certified as SBA's. Plaintiff sent a letter to the Chief Human Resources Officer, Joanne Guiffrida, in February 2004, informing her that he was certified. He claims that he also asked her to place ...

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