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Salmon v. Pliant Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

September 4, 2013

LEOPOLD SALMON, Plaintiff,
v.
PLIANT CORPORATION, Defendant

For Leopold E. Salmon, Plaintiff: Christina A. Agola, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brighton, NY; Ryan Charles Woodworth, Christina Agola PLLC, Brighton, NY.

For Pliant Corporation, Defendant: Adam T. Pankratz, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, P.C., Kansas City, MO; Daniel J. Moore, LEAD ATTORNEY, Harris Beach LLP, Pittsford, NY.

OPINION

Page 303

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Leopold Salmon (" plaintiff" ) brings this action against his former employer, Pliant Corporation (" Pliant" ), alleging discrimination in employment on the basis of race, and retaliation, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" Section 1981" ), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.§ 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and the New York Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § § 290 et seq.(" NYHRL" ).

Page 304

Pliant now moves for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff's claims. (Dkt. #34). For the reasons that follow, Pliant's motion for summary judgment is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an African-American individual of Jamaican ancestry and origin, began his employment with Pliant in July 2000. Plaintiff claims that during his employment with Pliant, several of his coworkers have harassed him by calling him names like " monkey" and " stupid ass," and making other offensive comments, including one coworker writing " Leo says hi" next to a picture of a monkey in a magazine. Plaintiff also alleges that in or about April 2007, a coworker made a " noose gesture" to the plaintiff while pointing at him.

In June 2007, plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A Notice of Right to sue was issued by the EEOC on September 17, 2008. This action followed. Plaintiff alleges that Pliant subjected him to: (1) harassment and deprivation of civil rights in violation of Section 1981; (2) retaliation in violation of Section 1981; (3) discrimination in violation of Title VII; (4) hostile work environment in violation of the NYHRL; and (5) retaliation in violation of Title VII and the NYHRL.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment in Discrimination Cases

Summary judgment will be granted if the record demonstrates that " there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Although courts should be cautious about granting summary judgment in cases where motive, intent or state of mind are at issue, a common component of discrimination actions, see Dister v. Cont'l Group, Inc., 859 F.2d 1108, 1114 (2d Cir. 1988); Montana v. First Federal Savings and Loan Ass'n of Rochester, 869 F.2d 100, 103 (2d Cir. 1989), " the salutary purposes of summary judgment -- avoiding protracted, expensive and harassing trials -- apply no less to discrimination cases than to...other areas of litigation." Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 998 (2d Cir.1985) (summary judgment rule would be rendered sterile if mere incantation of intent or state of mind would act as a talisman to defeat an otherwise valid motion). See also Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, ...


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