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Ramon Santana v. City of Ithaca

May 1, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe Chief Judge


I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Ramon Santana commenced this action against defendants City of Ithaca, New York and Ithaca Building Commissioner Phyllis Radke, alleging violations of Title VII,*fn1 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL),*fn2 and Chapters 55 and 215 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code (IMC). (See 2d Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 22.) Pending is defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). (See Dkt. No. 23.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Background

A. Facts*fn3

In the winter of 2006-2007, following five years of employment with

the Ithaca Department of Public Works, Santana, a Hispanic male, became a housing inspector with the city's Building Department (IBD). (See 2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 7.) The following summer, along with a senior code inspector, Santana was assigned to conduct housing inspections for Ithaca's "'West End area,'" which he contends comprises fifty percent of the city. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) Shortly after that assignment, Santana informed Commissioner Radke and a non-party IBD supervisor that "he had too many stacks of files backlogged and was unable to get files off his desk." (Id. ¶ 9.) He made similar complaints to the senior code inspector with whom he shared responsibility for Ithaca's West End area, and noted that five Caucasian IBD employees "were assisting one another in different capacities with the housing inspection assignments in a much geographically smaller area of" Ithaca, resulting in a "disparate workload." (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10.) Despite his protestations, "little to no action was taken," and, in early February 2009, Santana received a "Counseling Letter" containing "various allegations of falling behind in completing files and failing to use the new [IBD] computer systems correctly." (Id. ¶ 10.) Santana notified Radke again that "files were backlogged on his desk," and, on August 28, 2009, "request[ed] the use of overtime hours or compensatory time to reconcile paperwork for files that were piling up on [his] desk." (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Although Caucasian housing inspectors had been permitted to use overtime hours in similar situations, Santana's request was denied. (See id. ¶¶ 12, 29.)

In addition to being assigned a disproportionate geographical area, Santana was also required by Radke to inspect more units each week than at least one of his Caucasian colleagues. (See id. ¶¶ 20, 22.) Radke further required Santana to submit a weekly report indicating the number of units which he inspected each week; a task not demanded of the Caucasian inspectors. (See id. ¶ 19.) In June 2010, Radke instructed IBD's front office secretary to fill Santana's schedule with inspections from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. daily, and he was no longer allowed to "'block off'" days in order to catch up on paperwork. (Id. ¶ 27.) These restrictions applied only to Santana, and, while a Caucasian housing inspector was permitted to adjust his calendar to permit more time to complete paperwork, a similar request submitted by Santana was refused. (See id. ¶¶ 27, 30-31.)

At some point during 2009 or 2010, during an open staff meeting, IBD's former Executive Secretary expressed concern about Santana "bringing paperwork to field inspections using [IBD] envelopes." (Id. ¶ 15.) When Santana explained to Radke that he "just want[ed] to make sure the paperwork [was not] defaced with grease or dirt when [he gave] it to the customer," Radke responded: "'Ray I know how 'you people' like to go to Burger King on your breaks, I wouldn't want you to get grease on your paperwork." (Id.) Furthermore, in January 2010, Santana was falsely accused by Radke and another supervisor of "attempting to alter or forge Excel spreadsheet documents during a meeting." (Id. ¶ 18.)

Along with a disproportionate caseload and derogatory remarks, Santana insists that he was subjected to unequal disciplinary standards. In December 2009, he was verbally admonished by Radke "for parking his official City vehicle in front of City Hall." (Id. ¶ 14.) During the subsequent three months, a Caucasian senior code inspector parked his City vehicle in the same space on five occasions without warning or discipline. (See id.) Santana was also subjected to greater supervisory oversight during home inspections than were his Caucasian colleagues, and, on September 30, 2010, he was terminated for, in part, "ignoring code violations," while the same or similar ignorance by Caucasian inspectors went undisciplined. (Id. ¶¶ 32-35.)

B. Procedural History

On April 19, 2012, Defendants moved to dismiss Santana's original Complaint. (See Dkt. No. 6.) Santana was subsequently permitted by the court to amend his Complaint on two occasions, and both amendments were followed by defendants' renewal of their motion to dismiss. (See Dkt. Nos. 9, 11, 12, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23.) Defendants' most recent motion, which is presently pending before the court, seeks to dismiss Santana's Second Amended Complaint. (See Dkt. No. 23.)

III. Standard of Review

The standard of review under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 is well settled and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of that standard, the court refers the parties to its prior decision in Ellis v. Cohen & ...

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