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Morrishow v. Weill Medical School of Cornell University

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 15, 2013



GABRIEL W. GORENSTEIN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Albert Marcus Morrishow, proceeding pro se, brings this action against defendants Weill Medical College of Cornell University ("WMC"), Steven Gross, Ph.D., and Harry Lander, Ph.D., alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), N.Y. City Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq., as well as age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., NYSHRL, and NYCHRL. Defendants now move for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Fed. R. Civ. P.").[1] For the following reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the federal claims should be granted and plaintiff's remaining claims should be dismissed without prejudice.


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise stated.

Morrishow is an African-American male born on August 26, 1954. Pl. 56.1 Statement at 9;[2] Complaint for Employment Discrimination, filed July 13, 2011 (Docket # 2) ("Compl."), ¶ II.E. In September 1998, Dr. Gross hired Morrishow to work as a Research Technician in the Mass. Spectrometry Core Laboratory (the "Laboratory") at WMC. Pl. 56.1 Statement at 9, 12; Complaint Statement (annexed to Compl.) ("Compl. Statement"), at 2. Mass. spectrometry is an analytical technique used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of molecules. See Compl. Statement at 2 n.1.

In the 2010 fiscal year (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010) there was a $13 million budget shortfall. See Lander Decl. ¶ 5. On March 17, 2009, Dr. Lander informed Dr. Gross that the Laboratory would be closed as a cost savings measure and that Morrishow's position would be eliminated, effective July 1, 2009, as a result. Id . ¶¶ 6-7; Gross Decl. ¶ 11. Dr. Gross then informed Morrishow that his position would be eliminated. Gross Decl. ¶ 11; see also Compl. Statement at 4 (Dr. Gross informed plaintiff in February 2009 that position would be eliminated); Deposition of Albert M. Morrishow, dated May 11, 2012 (annexed as Ex. P to Kahn Decl.) ("Morrishow Dep."), at 104:7-19 (stating Dr. Gross first informed plaintiff of layoff in late January 2009). In the first week of June 2009, Dr. Lander formally notified Morrishow of his termination and that his last day of work would be June 30, 2009. Pl. 56.1 Statement at 35; Morrishow Dep. at 108:16-109:24. Morrishow's last day of employment was June 30, 2009. Pl. 56.1 Statement at 9; Morrishow Dep. at 128:4-5.

More than a year later, on July 29, 2010, Morrishow filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See Charge of Discrimination, dated July 29, 2010 (annexed as part of Ex. B to Kahn Decl.) ("Charge of Discrimination"); Pl. 56.1 Statement at 10. The Charge of Discrimination states that it was also to be filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"). See Charge of Discrimination. On April 20, 2011, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights which stated that "the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes." Dismissal and Notice of Rights, dated Apr. 20, 2011 (annexed as Ex. E to Kahn Decl.); see also Pl. 56.1 Statement at 10.

Morrishow filed the instant action on July 13, 2011. See Compl. Morrishow's complaint alleges that he experienced unequal terms and conditions of employment and was terminated because of his race, color, national origin, and age in violation of Title VII, ADEA, NYSHRL, and NYCHRL. Id . ¶¶ II.A, II.D, II.E.

Defendants seek summary judgment for three reasons: (1) Morrishow has not established a prima facie case of race or age discrimination, Def. Mem. at 10-12; (2) the undisputed evidence establishes a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for Morrishow's termination, id. at 12-13; and (3) the federal claims are barred because Morrishow's complaint to the EEOC was untimely, id. at 13-14. We reach only the issue of the timeliness of the administrative complaint as it suffices to dispose of this case.


Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) states that summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, "[t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed" and the court must draw "all justifiable inferences" in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co. , 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Nevertheless, once the moving party has shown that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, "the nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, '" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (emphasis in original) (additional citation omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)), and "may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation, " Scotto v. Almenas , 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). In other words, the nonmovant must offer "concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in his favor." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 256. Where "the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is warranted if the nonmovant fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [his] case." Nebraska v. Wyoming , 507 U.S. 584, 590 (1993) (alteration in original) (quoting Celotex , 477 U.S. at 322) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, "[a] defendant moving for summary judgment must prevail if the plaintiff fails to come forward with enough evidence to create a genuine factual issue to be tried with respect to an element essential to its case." Allen v. Cuomo , 100 F.3d 253, 258 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson , 477 U.S. at 247-48).


A. Timeliness of ...

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