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Amrita Madray v. Long Island University and Jeffrey Kane As Aider and Abettor

July 16, 2012

AMRITA MADRAY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY AND JEFFREY KANE AS AIDER AND ABETTOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

In this case, Amrita Madray ("Madray" or "the Plaintiff") alleges that her former employer Long Island University ("LIU") and Dr. Jeffrey Kane, Vice President of Academic Affairs ("Dr. Kane" and together with LIU "the Defendants") discriminated and retaliated against her by denying her tenure and constructively discharging her from employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"). Presently before the Court is the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons that follow, the Defendants' motion is granted.

I.BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

A more detailed recitation of the factual background of this case can be found in the Court's prior order with regard to the Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. See Madray v. Long Island Univ., 789 F. Supp. 2d 403 (E.D.N.Y. 2011). Familiarity with the facts in that decision is presumed.

In short, the Plaintiff, a female of Guyanese descent, was employed as an instructor, and later an assistant professor, in the library of the C.W. Post Campus, which is a part of Long Island University, from approximately 2001 until her resignation on March 6, 2009. During her employment, the focus of Madray's work was on plagiarism. In this regard, Madray created a number of faculty plagiarism websites, which the parties refer to as "digital products", which were used throughout the LIU libraries and presented to other universities.

In January of 2007, Madray submitted her first application for academic tenure. In April of 2007, defendant Dr. Jeffery Kane, Vice President of Academic Affairs, informed Madray that LIU had denied her tenure application. In January of 2008, Madray submitted a second application for academic tenure ("the 2008 tenure application"). On April 23, 2008, Dr. Kane informed Madray in a letter that LIU had denied her 2008 tenure application and that LIU would terminate her employment on August 31, 2008 ("the April 23, 2008 letter"). As a result, Madray filed a grievance with her Union challenging the denial in June of 2008. The parties settled the grievance, and Dr. Kane communicated the settlement to Madray in an August 8, 2008 letter, the terms of which extended Madray's discretionary employment by two years, and granted her an additional opportunity to apply for tenure during the 2009--2010 academic year ("the August 8, 2008 letter").

In the August 8, 2008 letter, Dr. Kane further stated that, in order to properly consider Madray's third tenure application, it would be necessary for the school to develop a method for assessing "digital products", and that the "[t]he C.W. Post Library Personnel Committee and the Dean [Unagarelli] have agreed to work with the office of Academic Affairs to develop a method of assessing digital products . . . ." (Second Am. Compl., ¶ 31.) Madray alleges that, between August 2008 and February 2009, Dr. Kane failed to respond to the numerous attempts by her and Dean Unagarelli to contact him to discuss the development of such a method.

As a result, on March 6, 2009, Madray sent a letter to Dean Unagarelli stating her intent to resign her position effective March 20, 2009. In her resignation letter, Madray stated that the reason for her resignation was Dr. Kane's refusal to meet with the C.W. Post Library Personnel Committee, Dean Unagarelli, or herself to develop a method for assessing her digital products.

B. Procedural History

On February 23, 2009, Madray filed a complaint of discrimination with both the New York Division of Human Rights ("NYDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which complaint bears the file number 16G-2009-03202 ("the initial charge"). (Defs.' Ex. H.) The initial charge includes a one page complaint and a four page NYDHR "Complaint Form". In the initial charge the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her color, race, national origin, and sex and that the discrimination consisted of the "Denial of tenure". (Id.)

According to the Plaintiff, she subsequently submitted an amended charge to the EEOC, bearing the file number 520-2009-01954 ("the amended charge"). (Pl.'s Ex. A.) The amended charge includes a modified version of the initial charge, as well as an EEOC Charge of Discrimination that was first dated and signed March 6, 2009, re-signed before a notary on April 18, 2009, and stamped as received by the EEOC on April 24, 2009. According to a letter provided by the Plaintiff, the EEOC acknowledged the receipt of the amended charge on April 29, 2009, and stated that "A copy of the charge or notice of the charge will be sent to the respondent within 10 days . . . ." (Pl.'s Ex. B.)

The amended charge included a number of handwritten modifications to the NYDHR Complaint Form, which was still dated February 23, 2009. For example, where the form asks, "What did/does the discrimination consist of?", the original version states "Denied tenure" and the amended version continues to add "and I am subjected to a more rigorous process". (Compare Defs.' Ex. H with Pl.'s Ex. A.)

With respect to the newly added EEOC Charge of Discrimination, the first page lists April 1, 2008 as the earliest date of discrimination, and August 8, 2008 as the date the most recent discrimination took place. Where the form asks what the discrimination is based on, the Plaintiff checked the boxes for "RACE", "COLOR", "SEX" and "NATIONAL ORIGIN", but not the box for "RETALIATION". Where the form requests the particulars of her complaint, the Plaintiff includes the following typewritten statement with handwritten revisions:

I was an Instructor with the LI University at the CW Post campus. I have been an Instructor since September 2001. I believe I was discriminated against because of my race/color (Indian), sex (female), national origin (Guyanese) when I was denied tenure by the Academic VP [on] April 23, 2008.

I believe there were conflicting reasons for denying my tenure. There were other instructors with less comparable qualifications who were granted tenure before me. On August 8, 2008, I was only offered an extension of my temporary employment.

I believe I was discriminated against because of my race/color, sex, national origin under Title VII of 1964 as amended, when I was denied tenure by the Academic VP [on] August 8, 2008 & April 23, 2008. (Pl.'s Ex. A.) The second page of the amended charge includes the following handwritten statement:

I feel that I was discriminated and judged unfairly.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs verbal and written reasons for not granting me tenure are contradictory and inconsistent.

Various personnel files/records, my union representative and colleagues can substantiate that my treatment has been unjust, discriminatory and different.

In addition, it is known that there have been more incidences among colleagues like myself with similar ethnicity and background who have experienced like treatment. Different and stricter evaluation criteria and process were/are applied.

(Id.)

On May 25, 2010, Madray received a Right to Sue letter from the EEOC bearing the file number from the initial charge. On August 20, 2010, Madray commenced this lawsuit by filing a complaint against LIU and Dr. Kane for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and NYSHRL based on the denials of tenure and the termination of her employment. Subsequently, on September 16, 2010, before the Defendants filed a responsive pleading, Madray amended the complaint as a matter of right, changing minor statements of fact ...


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