The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker L. Melancon United States District Judge
Before the Court is defendants Pratt Paper (NY), Inc. and Will Egan's Motion for Summary Judgment [Rec. Doc. 21], plaintiff Brian Hozer's Memorandum in Opposition thereto [Rec. Doc. 22], and defendants' Reply Memorandum [Rec. Doc. 23] in further support of the Motion. Defendants move for summary judgment on all of plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, defendants' Motion will be GRANTED.
Plaintiff Brian Hozer alleges that his employer, Pratt Paper (NY), Inc. ("Pratt"), terminated him in retaliation for opposing what he believed to be unlawful discrimination. Plaintiff brings a retaliation claim against defendant Prattunder Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), as well as retaliation claims against defendants Pratt and Egan*fn1 under the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § 296 ("SHRL") and the New York City Human Rights Law, New York City Administrative Code § 8-107 ("CHRL").
Pratt is a corporation that operates a paper-making facility in Staten Island. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 1.*fn2 Plaintiff Brian Hozer began working at Pratt in April 2008. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 20. Hozer is a veteran of the United States Air Force and Coast Guard and is married to a woman of Jewish descent. Hozer Dep. at 33, 112. On the evening of April 12, 2009, Hozer was working a shift at Pratt's Staten Island facility in the "mill" division, the division of the facility that manufactures and prepares paper for distribution. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶¶ 10-11, 34. Pratt employee Will Egan was also working in the mill division on the evening of April 12, 2009. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 34. Egan is a veteran of the United States Army and his girlfriend and mother of his child is "of Jewish ancestry." 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶¶ 6, 8. While operating the crane, Hozer, "as a joke," donned a safety vest and put tape on his arms and legs. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶¶ 39-41.
The parties allege different versions of the events that followed. Hozer alleges that while he was working, Egan asked Hozer to turn around and placed pieces of tape on Hozer's back in the form of a swastika symbol. Compl. ¶ 18; Hozer Dep. at 180. Hozer admits that he knew Egan had put "something" on his back, but asserts that he did not immediately notice it was a swastika symbol. Compl. ¶ 19; Hozer Dep. at 180. Hozer further alleges that he saw the swastika symbol "in the mirror" moments before Egan "ripped it off." Hozer Dep. at 180.
According to Egan, during the April 12, 2009 shift Hozer asked Egan to place tape onto Hozer's back in the form of a swastika. Egan Decl. ¶¶ 9-10. Egan asserts that he placed tape on Hozer's back in the form of a "T" or a "plus figure," but later noticed that Hozer had added tape to his back to complete a swastika symbol. Egan Decl. ¶¶ 9-11.
Hozer alleged in his complaint that on the evening of April 12, 2009 he went to the office of his supervisor, Steve Mullet, in order to "complain about the actions of Mr. Egan." Compl. ¶ 21. At Hozer's April 13, 2011 deposition, Hozer testified that he went to Mullet's office to ask for more help on the "floor," and further testified that it was Mullet who broached the subject of the swastika incident. Hozer Dep. at 207, 209.
Later on the evening of April 12, 2009, Mullet instructed Hozer to write a statement describing the swastika incident. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 59. Hozer testified in his deposition that, before writing his statement, he told Mullet that "there's no way I would ever do that, you know. I objected to him, uhm, in the office." Hozer Dep. at 210. Hozer then wrote his statement describing the swastika incident, in which he stated:
Sometime at the beginning of the shift, Will Egan applied tape to the back of my vest. Not knowing what he had taped, I noticed a symbol in the window reflection. Will removed what he had taped to my back shortly after. I took this as "just a bad joke" and nothing more. (Def. Ex. 6).
Hozer was picked up from the Pratt facility by his wife at the end of his shift on the morning of April 13, 2009 at approximately 7:00 a.m. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 62; Hozer Dep. at 223. During their drive home, Hozer told his wife that "I feel that I'm in trouble . . . they think I did something that I didn't do and I'm being accused of it." Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 62; Hozer Dep. at 218. Hozer asked his wife to drive him back to the Pratt facility so that he could speak to Pratt General Manager John Hennessey about the swastika incident. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶ 62. Plaintiff testified in his deposition that upon returning to the Pratt facility he told Hennessey that:
I would never put a swastika on my back. It's extremely offensive. It's a swastika. It represents how many, you know, Jews have died. I was in the military. My wife is Jewish. You know it's against everything I fought for. And there's absolutely no way I would do this. I love this job. Hozer Dep. at 218-19.
In contrast to Hozer's deposition testimony, Hennessey testified during his May 9, 2011 deposition that, during this conversation, Hozer did not state that he found the swastika symbol offensive or that his wife was Jewish. Hennessey Dep. at 70.
At approximately 9:00 a.m. on April 13, 2009, Hozer wrote another statement regarding the swastika incident and submitted it to Hennessey. Rule 56.1(b) Stmt. ¶¶ 64-67; Hozer Dep. at ...