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Sosa v. Medstaff, Inc.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 13, 2013

EDGAR SOSA, Plaintiff,
v.
MEDSTAFF, INC., CROSS COUNTRY HEALTHCARE, INC., CORNELL UNIVERSITY, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE, ADELA VARGAS, GUY MAZZA, DAVID GREENE, and ISABEL STANSHINE, Defendants.

Alex Umansky, Esq., Phillips & Associates, PLLC, New York, NY, Attorney for Petitioner.

Joseph C. O'Keefe, Esq., Proskauer Rose LLP, Newark, NJ, Attorney for Respondents.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NAOMI REICE BUCHWALD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Edgar Sosa ("Sosa") brings this action against defendants Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. ("Cross Country"), Medstaff, Inc. ("Medstaff")[1], David Greene ("Greene"), and Isabel Stanshine ("Stanshine") (collectively, the "Cross Country Defendants"), as well as Cornell University ("Cornell"), Weill Cornell Medical College ("Weill"), Adela Vargas ("Vargas"), and Guy Mazza ("Mazza"), alleging discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("§ 1981"), and the New York City Administrative Code § 8-107 et seq. (the "NYCAC"). Sosa claims that he was subjected to disparate treatment and a hostile work environment on account of his race, and that he was ultimately terminated in retaliation for complaining about his treatment.

Presently before the Court is the Cross Country Defendants' motion to dismiss Sosa's amended complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Cross Country Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND[2]

I. The Defendants

Defendant Cross Country is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. Am. Compl. ¶ 10; Defs.' Mem. at 2. Cross Country is a holding company that owns nondefendant Cross Country Staffing, Inc., which in turn owns defendant Medstaff. Am. Compl. ¶ 12; Defs.' Mem. at 2. Medstaff acts as a staffing service, providing nurses to its clients (such as hospitals) to fill positions on a temporary basis. Am. Compl. ¶ 11; Defs.' Mem. at 2. One such client was defendant Weill, the research unit and medical school of defendant Cornell University. Am. Compl. ¶ 14-15.

Sosa also names four individual defendants in his complaint. Two were employed by Weill and Cornell during the relevant time period: Vargas, who worked as the Administrative Coordinator and Office Manager, and Mazza, who was a Senior Employee Relations Specialist. Id . ¶ 17, 19. The other two, defendants Greene and Stanshine, were employed by Cross Country and Medstaff as a Clinical Liaison and as the Vice President of Medical Services, respectively. Id . ¶ 21, 23. Greene and Stanshine, along with Cross Country and Medstaff, have brought the motion to dismiss currently before the Court. Throughout this Memorandum and Order, these four defendants are collectively referred to as the "Cross Country Defendants."

II. Factual Background

In early 2012, Sosa began working for Medstaff as an oncology nurse, and on or about March 5, 2012, he was placed at Weill. Id . ¶ 26-27. For his services, Medstaff paid Sosa $3400 per month. Id . According to Sosa, for about two months, he "was an exemplary employee, " receiving compliments for his work and no indications of poor performance. Id . ¶ 29.

In early May 2012, defendant Vargas, Sosa's direct supervisor at Weill, approached the plaintiff and said "You look like Urckle, " then snickered and walked away.[3] Id . ¶ 34; Defs.' Mem. at 2. Sosa then claims that on May 25, 2012, "for absolutely no reason, " Vargas commented to the plaintiff, "You're so street, Eddie. You're so street." Am. Compl. ¶ 35. Sosa believed that this statement implied that he must have grown up "on the streets" because of his race. Id . In response to these statements, on May 28, 2012, Sosa attempted to complain to defendant Mazza, Weill's Senior Employee Relations Specialist, but was unable to reach him. Instead, he lodged his complaint with non-defendant Angela Charter ("Charter"), Weill's Associate Director of Employee Relations. Id . ¶ 36.

Beginning two days after Sosa's grievance to Charter, Vargas began avoiding the plaintiff, refusing to make eye contact and communicating with him through intermediaries. Id . ¶ 38-39, 41. The plaintiff complained again on June 1, 2012, this time speaking directed to Mazza and telling him that "Vargas ha[d] subjected him to discrimination on the basis of race and was now retaliating against him for complaining." Id . ¶ 40. In the days that followed, Sosa claims that Vargas began micromanaging his work and continued to ignore him. Id . ¶ 41. On June 6, 2012, the plaintiff complained for a third time, this time to defendant Greene, about Vargas's conduct. Id . ¶ 42. That same day, Mazza contacted Sosa and told him that "the issue has been resolved and this will never happen again." Id . ¶ 43. There is no indication that Vargas continued to ignore or micromanage the plaintiff, or made any discriminatory comments toward him, after June 6, 2012. Defs.' Mem. at 3.

Two days later, on June 8, 2012, Sosa again complained to Greene, Cross Country's Clinical Liaison, who responded by telling the plaintiff that he would "investigate the matter." Am. Compl. ¶ 46. Later that day, Greene heard from Vargas that Weill was terminating the plaintiff's employment at the hospital due to his loud singing, loud speech, and commission of a medical error. Id . ¶ 47; Defs.' Mem. at 4. Greene then informed Sosa of his termination from Weill and also suspended him from Medstaff for six months. Am. Compl. ¶ 47, 50. On June 11, 2012, Sosa called defendant Stanshine to discuss the matter. He left a voicemail, and the two of them never spoke. Id . ¶ 51.

III. Procedural Background

Sosa filed a charge of discrimination based on the allegations above with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and he received his right to sue on November 28, 2012. Id . 5-6. Sosa first filed his complaint with this Court on December 10, 2012 and amended the complaint on February 4, 2013. The plaintiff alleges eight causes of action in the amended complaint based on allegations of race-based discrimination and subsequent retaliation after Sosa ...


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