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Jacqueline Wright v. Monroe Community Hospital

July 28, 2011

JACQUELINE WRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONROE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, DEFENDANT.



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

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Jacqueline Wright ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("Section 1981"); Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e); the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (as amended to Title VII); and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), Executive Law § 290, against Defendant Monroe Community Hospital ("Defendant" or "Hospital"), alleging discrimination based on sex, race, and retaliation. (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 1). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant subjected her to an ongoing discriminatory and hostile work environment because of her identity as an African-American woman, who was also pregnant at the time of the alleged events. See id. at ¶¶ 5, 32-6.

Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for any of her causes of action. See generally, Dkt. No. 12-10. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a plausible race discrimination claim because her claim is based on the alleged acts of an elderly resident of the Hospital, and not on an act of the Hospital itself. Id. at 7. Defendant further argues that Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie claim for sex discrimination, and that, as a result, her claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act must also fail. Id. at 9-12.

Additionally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim of hostile work environment because she has failed to establish that there was a pattern of severe or pervasive hostility in the workplace. Id. at 12-3. Finally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's retaliation claims fail because she never alleged that she complained of unlawful discrimination to her employer or that she engaged in some other protected activity that would serve as the basis for her employer's alleged retaliation. Id. at 15.

Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion and asks that this Court deny Defendant's motion in its entirety.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that Plaintiff has not established a prima facie case of discrimination based on race or sex. Accordingly, Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted, and Plaintiff's Complaint is hereby dismissed.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's complaint, and are not findings of fact by the Court, but rather assumed to be true for the purposes of deciding this motion and are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the non-moving party. The Court notes that, in addition to a memorandum of law, Defendant has submitted various documents which Plaintiff "quotes and/or makes reference to" in her Complaint. (Dkt. No. 12-10 at 4). Although Plaintiff did not attach to her Complaint any of the documents her Complaint referenced, Defendant argues that the Court may consider "any ... statements or documents incorporated into the complaint by reference ... and documents possessed or known to the plaintiff and upon which it relied in bringing the suit." (Id. at 5)(quoting ATSI Communications, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007)(internal quotations omitted)(emphasis supplied by Defendant). While the Court may include documents incorporated by reference and information from public records, this Court's discussion will not give consideration to the documents attached by the Defendant and will instead limit its consideration "to the facts as presented within the four corners of the complaint...." Taylor v. Vt. Dep't of Educ., 313 F.3d 768, 776 (2d Cir. 2002); see also Hayden v. County of Nassau, 180 F.3d 42, 54 (2d Cir. 1999).

Plaintiff is an African-American woman, who was at all times relevant, a long-term employee of Defendant Monroe Community Hospital. (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 5). Monroe Community Hospital is a nonprofit residential health care facility in Rochester, New York that houses a number of skilled nursing units that provide long-term care to people of all ages, including those with Alzheimer's and dementia.*fn2 (Dkt. No. 12-10 at 2). Plaintiff began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant ("CNA") for Monroe Community Hospital in October of 1997. (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 7).

In January 2008, Plaintiff informed the Hospital that she suspected a well-liked patient of using illegal substances, claiming the patient emitted "strong odors that smelled like marijuana." Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff reported this incident (based upon instructions from one of the Hospital's nurse managers, Brad Hughes ("Nurse Manager Hughes")) to notify the charge nurse of any further issues. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff subsequently reported her suspicions concerning the patient's drug use to the evening charge nurse, Doug Mason, LPN ("Charge Nurse Mason"), who reportedly followed up on Plaintiff's report and removed "a bag" from the patient's possession. Id. at ¶ 10-1.

Plaintiff states that on February 24, 2008, she again reported her suspicions of the patient's alleged drug use. Id. at ¶ 12-3. Plaintiff claims that, as a result of this report, she was confronted by the patient's assigned nurse who "aggressively swore at Plaintiff," questioning Plaintiff's motives for interfering with the patient and telling Plaintiff she "should just leave [that] patient ... alone." Id. at ¶ 13.

After the second report, Plaintiff was reassigned from the patient she suspected of drug use to another patient, an elderly woman with dementia. Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant "purposely" reassigned her to this patient because it was well-known that (this patient) "made intolerable racist comments and would target the minorities within the staff and make complaints and accusations against them...." Id. at ¶ 17.

Plaintiff alleges that this patient "repeatedly denigrated" her by describing Plaintiff with a derogatory racial slur. Id. at ¶ 21. Plaintiff complained about this patient's behavior, but was told that the patient "had dementia" and that "sometimes you just have to deal with it." Id. at ¶ 23.

Around this time, Plaintiff received notices of discipline for violating the Defendant's time and attendance policy, and received a written warning concerning an "alleged incident" between Plaintiff and her reassigned patient. Id. at ¶ 18-9.

On April 1, 2008, Plaintiff attended an investigatory hearing for the alleged incident with the patient. Id. at ¶ 25. Nurse Manager Hughes, Nurse Administrator Jeff Schwertfeger, and several staff members who wrote notices of concern were also in attendance. Id. After the hearing, on April 4, 2008, Plaintiff received another notice of discipline for allegedly failing to provide safe and compassionate care to the Hospital's residents. Id. at ¶ 26. Then, on July 1, ...


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