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Ivory v. Syracuse University

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 24, 2013

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.


THOMAS J. McAVOY, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Candice Ivory commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., claiming that she was retaliated against and terminated on account of her race and engaging in protected activity, and that she was subjected to a hostile work environment on account of her race. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Plaintiff filed untimely papers in opposition to the motion.


The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff began working as the Events Coordinator at the Syracuse University Humanities Center on October 16, 2011. Her supervisor was Defendant Gregg Lambert. The two other people in her department were Kelly Pickard and Karen Ortega. During the first week of Plaintiff's employment, Pickard began "harassing [Plaintiff] about [her] work schedule. Pickard made statements that suggested that [Plaintiff] was slow and lazy and made several references to her previous experience as an employee in the African American Studies Department." Compl. at ¶ 4. On October 19, 2011, Plaintiff reported harassment to the Human Resources Department. Plaintiff also discussed the matter with Lambert. Notwithstanding these reports, "Pickard continued to harass [Plaintiff] about [her] work and [her] work schedule. She continued to make remarks relating to the stereotype that African Americans are slow and lazy. She also made several references about the fact that I was married to a white male." Compl. at ¶ 7.

Between October and December, Plaintiff had several meetings with Lambert to resolve the conflicts in the office. Lambert responded by suggesting that the people in the office needed to get to know one another.

In November 2011, Ortega accused Plaintiff of errors that were Ortega's responsibility. Ortega accused Plaintiff "of thwarting her work." Compl. at ¶ 9. As a result, on December 1, 2011, Lambert issued a warning to Plaintiff.

On December 6, 2011, Ortega cornered Plaintiff in her office and asked "why [Plaintiff's] husband would not speak to her, " and "what is your problem, " and claimed that Plaintiff did not give her any respect. Compl. at ¶ 11. Later that day, Lambert called Plaintiff into his office and told her that "you don't talk, you listen." Compl. at ¶ 12. Lambert then "blamed [Plaintiff] for the lack of completed tasks in the office...." Id.

On December 9, 2011, Plaintiff sent a charge of discrimination to the New York State Division of Human Rights. On December 10, 2011, "Ortega moved into [Plaintiff's] duties as coordinator and then told [Plaintiff] how [they] would proceed for the remainder of the year." Compl. at ¶ 14.

On December 14, 2011, Ortega, Pickard and Plaintiff were ordered to go to lunch at the faculty lounge. Thereafter, Plaintiff met with "Lambert and Pat Tassini [from Human Resources] who both told [Plaintiff] that [she] had misunderstood [her] work hours expectation, and that [her] own pompous attitude had caused the creation of a hostile work environment." Compl. at ¶ 16.

On December 16, 2011, Lambert rescinded Plaintiff's previously approved Christmas holiday purportedly because of a lack of completed work. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff began to experience chest pains. Plaintiff was taken to the emergency room. On December 20, 2011, Plaintiff began a leave of absence from work due to excessive stress and anxiety.

On September 10, 2012, Plaintiff was notified that the Humanities Center was restructuring its office and that both she and Ortega's positions would be eliminated. Plaintiff was advised that she could apply for the new job that was being posted. On October 15, 2012, Plaintiff was interviewed for the newly created Administrative Assistant II position. Pickard was on the panel of interviewers. Plaintiff was not offered the new position. On November 11, 2012, Plaintiff's position and disability benefits were terminated.

After receiving Right to Sue notices, Plaintiff commenced the instant action claiming that she was the victim of a hostile work environment on account of her race; she was retaliated against for her complaints about Pickard and Ortega by receiving a warning and being denied pre-approved vacation time; she was retaliated against for filing a charge of discrimination by being terminated and not being rehired; and that her contract of employment with Defendant was terminated on account of her race.


a. Individual Liability ...

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