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Donohue v. Finkelstein Memorial Library

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 16, 2013

SUSAN DONOHUE and MARY " MEG" WILSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
FINKELSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY, Defendant

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For the Plaintiffs: Michael Howard Sussman, Sussman & Watkins, Goshen, NY.

For Finkelstein Memorial Library: Danielle Marie Dandridge, Hoey, King,& Epstein, New York, NY.

OPINION

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OPINION AND ORDER

DENISE COTE, United States District Judge.

Susan Donohue (" Donohue" ) and Mary Wilson (" Wilson" ) have brought employment discrimination claims against their

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employer, the Finkelstein Memorial Library (" Library" ), and the former Executive Director of the Library, Robert Devino (" Devino" ), for Devino's sexual harassment of each of them. Shortly after the plaintiffs complained about Devino's conduct, he was placed on leave and was never allowed to return to work. Devino was eventually allowed to resign. The Library now moves for summary judgment.[1] For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part: the retaliation claims are dismissed.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed or taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. The Library is located in Spring Valley, New York; it is a free public library serving the population of Rockland County. Donohue began working for the Library in 2004 as a librarian in the Children's Department. She eventually became the head of that department, a position she currently holds. The Library rates it as a Librarian " 3" position.

Devino was appointed the Executive Director of the Library in May 2005. According to the Library's Personnel Policy Manual, the Executive Director " is the principal administrative officer, responsible directly to the Board of Trustees for carrying out Library policy."

On June 13 and 27, 2011, Donohue had two unpleasant encounters with Devino in which he made sexually suggestive and unprofessional comments to Donohue. Donohue rebuffed Devino's advances. In mid-July, Donohue, Devino, and others were attending a meeting outside the Library when Devino noticed that Donohue did not have a pen. Devino threw one across the table at Donohue and it hit her in the chest. Concluding that Devino was trying to tell her who was the boss, she decided to complain about his conduct.

On July 18, Donohue met with the human resources officer, Angela Sers (" Sers" ), and described the incidents that had occurred in June and July. Sers was Devino's secretary and recommended that Donohue call Richard Rothbard (" Rothbard" ), Chairman of the Library's Board of Trustees, and/or Randy Braun (" Braun" ), the Library's attorney.

Donohue called Rothbard, and they spoke on July 19 and met on July 28. Rothbard outlined two approaches that could be taken. Donohue could ask for an informal investigation, which would entail a discussion with Devino, a write-up in his personnel file, and a letter of apology to her; or she could request a formal investigation, which would allow Donohue to present her complaint to the Board at a meeting with Devino present. On August 1, Donohue told Rothbard that she wanted to pursue the formal investigation. Rothbard notified Braun of her choice. Donohue and her counsel were in contact with Braun by August 3.

During August, Braun interviewed Donohue in the presence of her attorney and interviewed others with whom Donohue had discussed the incidents. In that same month, the Library engaged an outside law firm to conduct the investigation, and it interviewed Donohue again. During August, Donohue told Wilson for the first time about Devino's behavior and learned from Wilson that Devino had sexually harassed her as well.

Wilson had been working for the Library since 2000 as a Telephone Operator Typist. Her ...


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