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Trent v. Town of Brookhaven

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 15, 2013

DARIAN TRENT, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF BROOKHAVEN, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Darian Trent, Sr., Plaintiff, Pro se, Lisbon, OH.

For Defendant: David M. Cohen, Esq., Cooper, Sapir & Cohen, P.C., Melville, NY.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM & ORDER

SEYBERT, District Judge:

Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Town of Brookhaven's (" Defendant" or " Town" ) motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND[1]

A. Factual Background

Pro se Plaintiff Darian Trent, Sr. (" Plaintiff" ) commenced this action against Defendant alleging that he was discriminated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § § 12112-12117 (" ADA" ).

On February 22, 2005, Plaintiff, an African-American male, began his employment with Defendant as a part-time laborer in its Department of Waste Management. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 1-2; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 1-2.) Plaintiff's brother, Andrew Trent, also worked for Defendant as a part-time employee, and was made a full-time employee approximately two years later. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3.)

Plaintiff's initial employment history is relatively uneventful until Plaintiff sustained a work-related injury in January 2006. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.) As a result, he was out of work and received worker's compensation benefits for approximately four or five months. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.) According to Defendant, Plaintiff returned to work without any adverse action. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff disagrees and believes that Defendant began to

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question Plaintiff's attendance and timeliness after his leave. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10.)

On June 7, 2006, Ed Hubbard, the Town's Environmental Facilities Manager, met with Plaintiff to discuss lateness and attendance issues that Plaintiff had. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5.) Two months later, on or about August 8, 2006, Plaintiff and Mr. Hubbard met again. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 6; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 6.) Mr. Hubbard informed Plaintiff that his attendance and tardiness record would jeopardize his chances of becoming a full-time employee as well as his continued employment in general. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff admits that additional roofing and other side jobs resulted in attendance issues. (Pl.'s Resp. to 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 9.)

According to Defendant, Plaintiff's record did not improve, and on December 19, 2006, Defendant issued to Plaintiff a written counseling memorandum, which Plaintiff signed. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8.) The statement advised Plaintiff that future latenesses or absences could result in his termination. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8.)

On March 27, 2007, Plaintiff left his work assignment for at least forty-five minutes in order to deliver a letter to the Office of the Supervisor in which he requested full-time employment. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 12-13; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 12-13.) Three days later, Plaintiff again left his assignment to visit the Office of the Supervisor. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 14; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff did not have permission to leave on either occasion. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 12, 15.)

On April 4, 2007, Mr. Hubbard prepared a request to the Office of the Supervisor for the termination of Plaintiff's employment due to Plaintiff's absences and latenesses. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 18.) Thereafter, on April 17, 2007, Plaintiff sustained a hand injury on the job. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 29; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 29.) The Office of the Supervisor ultimately issued a termination letter on April 19, 2007. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff agrees to having received this letter, but argues that it was sent by certified mail on April 23, 2007. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 19.)

Plaintiff alleges that it was the April 17, 2007 hand injury and racial discrimination that caused his termination, not issues with his attendance record. Defendant maintains that it did not know of Plaintiff's April 17th injury until it received an accident report on April 25, 2007--after it had already issued Plaintiff's termination letter. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 31.) Defendant admits to having received a document from Brookhaven Memorial Center on April 17, 2007 regarding a worker's compensation injury to Plaintiff, but Defendant's personnel thought it pertained to Plaintiff's January 2006 injury. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 35.) In addition, Patricia Baehrle in Defendant's Department of Waste Management received a note from Dr. Rubin dated April 18, 2007 which stated that Plaintiff was under the doctor's care. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 38; Pl.'s Resp. to 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 38.) Two days later, Ms. Baehrle indicated in an email that Plaintiff had handed her a doctor's note that morning. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff disputes Defendant's assertion that it did not know of Plaintiff's April 2007 hand injury. (Pl.'s Add'l 56.1 Stmt. ¶ ¶ 13-19.)

In addition, Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant treated Caucasian employees more favorably than Plaintiff. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23.) For example, he claims that, although Defendant recommended that

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Thomas Stretch be fired for absenteeism, Mr. Stretch was given the opportunity to quit first. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23(a).) According to Plaintiff, Mr. Hubbard held a meeting with Mr. Stretch in which he provided Mr. Stretch the opportunity to quit. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23.) Defendant maintains that Mr. Stretch resigned on his own, without having been presented with the opportunity to do so. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 22.)

Plaintiff also claims that William Walsh, Jr. was treated more favorably because Mr. Walsh missed work and slept on the job. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23(b); Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 23(b).) Defendant maintains, however, that Mr. Walsh was a full-time employee, who could not be fired without formal disciplinary charges and a hearing. (Def.'s 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 24.) Further, Plaintiff argues that Cathy Frick was treated more favorably than Plaintiff because she was fired from the Town's Animal Shelter but was hired full-time in the Department of Waste Management. (Def.'s 56.1 ...


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