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Nieman v. Syracuse University Office of Human Resources

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 5, 2013

CYNTHIA S. NIEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF HUMAN RESOURCES, Defendant.

Cynthia S. Nieman Fayetteville, New York, Plaintiff Pro Se.

Peter A. Jones, Esq. Andrew D. Bobrek, Esq. Katherine R. Schafer, Esq. BOND, SCHOENECK & KING, PLLC Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, appearing pro se, commenced the within action alleging that defendant terminated her, retaliated against her and discontinued her disability benefits in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") and the Americans with Disability Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"). Presently before the Court is defendant Syracuse University's ("defendant") motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1] (Dkt. No. 12). Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Dkt. No. 22).

BACKGROUND[2]

Plaintiff was employed for eighteen years as an administrative assistant at Syracuse University.[3] On February 5, 2010, plaintiff was notified that her payments under the Syracuse University Salary Continuation Plan (the "Plan") would terminate on February 5, 2010.[4] On March 5, 2010, plaintiff received a letter advising her that she was terminated from employment by defendant, "effective March 5, 2010, as a result of performance deficiencies that occurred when she was working for the University".[5]

On August 27, 2010, plaintiff's former counsel sent a letter to defendant appealing the "determination upholding the termination of Cynthia Nieman's claim for benefits" and requesting that benefits be reinstated. Counsel annexed plaintiff's medical records and records from the Social Security Administration to the correspondence. Counsel asserted:

As set forth below, each of these documents fully support the conclusion that Ms. Nieman is completely unable to work. Further, it is submitted that this overwhelming evidence clearly establishes that Ms. Nieman is, in fact, totally disabled.

On November 24, 2010, defendant responded to counsel's letter and denied plaintiff's appeal concluding:

When deciding this appeal, I am required to follow the written terms of the Plan. Based upon the Plan provisions that are cited in Part I above, and for the reasons described in Part I above, Ms. Nieman's appeal for additional Plan benefits must be denied because the best available medical information indicates that she was not Totally Disabled on February 8, 2010. Moreover, apart from the fact that she was not Totally Disabled on February 8, 2010, Ms Nieman's appeal for additional Plan benefits must be denied because her employment was terminated on March 5, 2010, and that termination made her ineligible for Plan benefits as described in Part H above.

On September 20, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("NYSDHR"). Plaintiff claimed that she suffered employment discrimination and alleged that the most recent date of discrimination was November 24, 2010, the date that defendant denied her appeal of the termination of her Plan benefits. Plaintiff claimed that she was discriminated against due to her disability and that she was denied "disability benefits despite clear evidence".

On December 1, 2011, the NYSDHR issued a Determination and Order After Investigation finding no probable cause, "to believe [defendant] has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of". On February 7, 2012, the EEOC adopted the NYSDHR findings and issued a Notice of Suit Rights.

On May 2, 2012, plaintiff filed the within action. Plaintiff claims that she suffered employment discrimination, in violation of Title VII and ADA, based upon her disability. Plaintiff alleges that she was terminated, her benefits were ...


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