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Vanessa Patterson v. Xerox Corporation and Samuel Peterson

June 13, 2012

VANESSA PATTERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
XEROX CORPORATION AND SAMUEL PETERSON DEFENDANT.



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

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Vanessa Patterson ("plaintiff"), brings this action for employment discrimination and retaliation against her employer, Xerox Corporation ("Xerox") and her former supervisor, Samuel Peterson ("Peterson"), (collectively, "defendants"). In a Decision and Order dated August 2, 2010, this Court granted-in-part and denied-in-part defendants' motion to dismiss. What remains are plaintiff's claims for a hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., ("Title VII") (against Xerox only) and New York State Human Rights Law, New York Exec. Law §§ 290 et seq. ("NYSHRL") (against Xerox and Peterson).

Defendants now move for summary judgment on plaintiff's remaining claims, contending that there are no material issues of fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Plaintiff, now proceeding pro se*fn1 , opposes the motion, arguing that there are material issues of fact for trial. For the reasons discussed herein, I find that plaintiff has not established a claim for retaliation or a hostile work environment. Therefore, her complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the parties' submissions pursuant to Local Rule 56 (a)(Docket Nos. 45, 46) and the entire record in this case, and are viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Plaintiff is an African American female who is currently employed by Xerox and has worked at Xerox since 1991. Peterson, an African American male, began working at Xerox around the same time as the plaintiff. Plaintiff filed a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker, Dan Williams, in April 2000, and she alleges that Peterson gave testimony on Williams' behalf and that he and Williams were friends. Williams was ultimately suspended for his conduct. Peterson avers that he and Williams were not close friends and that he was not involved in the incident that occurred between Williams and plaintiff in April 2000. He further states that he has no personal knowledge of the incident.

In January 2007, Peterson was assigned to supervise a group of custodial employees, including plaintiff, in Xerox Building 801, located in Henrietta, New York. Plaintiff testified that many members of the work group had problems with Peterson and he held daily group meetings that often turned "ugly and argumentative." Plaintiff testified that she was "harassed" on a daily basis. Although she did not describe this personal harassment in great detail, she submitted evidence of the following comments*fn2 made by Peterson:

(1) Peterson told other employees that he was a "male chauvinist;"

(2) Peterson suggested that the work group, including the plaintiff, should have more of a "slave mentality;"*fn3

(3) Peterson made a comment that he should "corral the animals," referring to the members of the work group;

(4) Peterson made a comment to two of Plaintiff's co-workers that he "would fire all the black people, because they are useless;"

(5) Peterson joined a conversation regarding the reference to "nappy headed hoes" made by radio host Don Imus, and stated that he did not think Imus should have been fired for the statement;

(6) Peterson told plaintiff's co-worker that he would "take [plaintiff] in his office and spank her" because she needed to "learn ...


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