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Edith Jordan v. Corning Community College

September 22, 2011

EDITH JORDAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORNING COMMUNITY COLLEGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Edith Jordan ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New York State Human Rights Law §§ 296, et seq., alleging discrimination on the basis of her gender, discriminatory retaliation, retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, violations of equal protection and due process, and discrimination and retaliation in violation of New York state law. (Docket No. 1.)*fn1 Plaintiff specifically alleges that she suffered gender discrimination while she was a student at the Southern Tier Law Enforcement Academy at Corning College (the "College"), she complained of gender discrimination and she was then terminated as a student and the College thereafter gave her negative references in violation of federal and state law and a settlement agreement between the parties.

Defendants, the College and Patrick Pariss, Captain Michael Marrone, Rick Churches, Bruce Gugliotta, and other unknown representatives, agents or employees of the College (collectively the "Individual Defendants"), now move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, contending, inter alia, that several of Plaintiff's claims are time barred or were the subject of a settlement agreement before the New York state Division of Human Rights (the "Division of Human Rights"), and therefore, cannot be relitigated. They further contend that Plaintiff has failed to plausibly state a claim for relief. (Docket No. 8). Plaintiff opposes Defendants' motion.

For the reasons set forth below this Court denies Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims under § 1983 and Title IX. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss certain state law claims is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the Complaint and the Stipulation of Settlement of Plaintiff's complaints before the Division of Human Rights, which is incorporated into the Complaint by reference.*fn2 Compl. at ¶26. Plaintiff entered the police academy at the College in January 2007. At that time, Plaintiff was the only female cadet. Plaintiff states that she was publicly called the "weakest link" and pulled out of formation by Defendant Churches during one class because, he said, she could not "make it" as a police officer. Plaintiff also alleges that male cadets were afforded the opportunity to make up physical training that was missed for personal reasons, but she was told that she needed to choose between her family and personal obligations and the academy. She further alleges that the bathroom and changing facilities for the female cadets were located at least ten miles from the academy, and were not in the same location as the male facilities. Plaintiff does not state where the male facilities were located in relation to the academy, but a reasonable inference is that male cadets where required to travel less than female cadets to access such facilities.

Based on these facts, Plaintiff complained to Defendants Pariss and Marrone and her Class Leader (who is not identified by name in the Complaint) in January 2007. Plaintiff states that Marrone then asked her to resign from the academy, and told her she was a "distraction." On or around February 1, 2007, Plaintiff was terminated from the academy. Plaintiff appealed her termination, but it was upheld by the College. She alleges that she was told that she had "an issue with being a female."

On November 16, 2007 Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Division of Human Rights. She later filed a second charge of discrimination and retaliation with the Division of Human Rights, on April 10, 2008, after she was rejected from employment by the Myrtle Beach Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the Chesterfield County Police Department in early 2008.

Plaintiff states that the Myrtle Beach Police Department rescinded an original offer of employment after they received "new information." The Virginia State Police stated that she would not be considered "due to information provided to them during the background phase of the hiring process." She states that she received a similar rejection from the Chesterfield County Police Department. She claims that the Defendants provided negative, false and misleading information to these prospective employers and that she "was advised that information these departments had received from the Defendants...caused them not to further consider her for employment."

The Division of Human Rights consolidated Plaintiff's complaints and scheduled a public hearing. But on July 6, 2009, prior to the hearing, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement and her complaints were dismissed by separate Orders based on the Stipulation of Settlement in July 2009.

The settlement required Defendants to pay Plaintiff $1,100.00 and provide future employers with an agreed-upon reference which stated that she left for "personal reasons" on February 1, 2007, and that she "excelled academically and had been appointed squad leader by her peers." Plaintiff also agreed to withdraw her complaints before the Division of Human Rights and to release Defendants from all future liability for the alleged actions that were the subject of the settlement.

Plaintiff claims that Defendants thereafter provided negative, false and misleading information to the following prospective employers: the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, the Spring Garden Township Police Department in York Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore Police Department. She states that she received a letter from the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia which stated that she was rejected based on "false statements and termination from a law enforcement agency." Plaintiff then received a letter from the Spring Garden Township Police Department that she ...


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