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Jeune v. City of New York

United States District Court, Second Circuit

January 9, 2014

SAUL JEUNE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JESSE M. FURMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Saul Jeune, a police officer with the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), sues the City of New York (the "City") and two NYPD officers, Sergeant Anita Polanco[1] and Lieutenant Frankie Rivera. Plaintiff asserts that Sergeant Polanco and Lieutenant Rivera discriminated against him, retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity, and subjected him to a hostile work environment, all in violation of federal, state, and local antidiscrimination statutes, as well as New York state tort law. Defendants now move for summary judgment. (Docket No. 26). For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND

The following facts, taken from the Complaint and the admissible materials submitted by the parties, are viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as he is the non-moving party.

Plaintiff, who identifies as black and of Haitian descent, has been employed as a police officer by the NYPD since January 2005. (Collyer Decl. (Docket No. 27), Ex. A ("Collyer Jeune Dep.") 18:6-11; 88:4-6; Collyer Decl., Ex. B ("Appointment Memorandum")). He is assigned to the Twenty-Sixth Precinct. (Pl.'s Responses Defs.' Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement") (Docket No. 34) ¶ 6). During much of the time relevant to this case, Plaintiff had a regular partner named Officer Richards; they worked together most - but not all - of the time. (Collyer Jeune Dep. 46:10-20).

In 2009, another police officer in the Twenty-Sixth Precinct, Jill Rosenthal, filed a discrimination lawsuit against Sergeant Nancy Fuocco. (Collyer Jeune Dep. 69:17-70:6). The law firm of Cronin & Byczek, which represents Plaintiff in the instant matter, contacted Plaintiff in January 2010 to explore the possibility that he would serve as a witness in the Rosenthal case; ultimately, however, he never gave testimony or did anything else to assist Rosenthal in the litigation. (Mashhadian Decl. (Docket No. 32), Ex. B ("Mashhadian Jeune Dep.") 71:2-9; 72:5-6; 73:3-9; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 21).[2]

The evening of March 11, 2011, Plaintiff's wife gave birth to their baby daughter. (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 46; Collyer Jeune Dep. 83:3-6). At about midnight that same night, Plaintiff called the desk officer to request an emergency day off (known as an "E-day") for the following day, March 12, 2011, and the desk officer granted it. (Collyer Jeune Dep. 82:14-83:11; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 47). Plaintiff then requested the next day, March 13, as another day off, which Sergeant Polanco initially denied, but ultimately granted. (Collyer Decl., Ex. C ("Collyer Polanco Dep.") 39:24-40:6; 40:13-41:5; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 52).

On March 14, Plaintiff submitted a "Leave of Absence Report" requesting to take off from March 17 through March 21. (Collyer Decl., Ex. H). Sergeant Polanco testified that requests for more than one day off at a time could only be granted by a higher-ranking officer, such as Lieutenant Rivera (Collyer Polanco Dep. 31:24-32:10); Plaintiff contests this testimony, however, asserting that Sergeant Polanco did, in fact, have authority to grant such a request. (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 34). In any case, Plaintiff's request for those days off was denied. (Collyer Jeune Dep. 87:2-4; Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Statement ¶ 50). According to Defendants, the denial was based on staffing needs and Plaintiff's failure to follow NYPD protocol in requesting the time off. (Defs.' Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mem.") 7-8).

Shortly thereafter, on or about March 17, 2011, Plaintiff filed an internal complaint with the NYPD Office of Equal Employment Opportunity ("OEEO"), claiming that the denial of additional leave was discriminatory. (Mashhadian Jeune Dep. 107:1-8; Mashhadian Decl., Ex. E ("Mashhadian Rivera Dep.") 54:11-23). Sergeant Polanco and Lieutenant Rivera both acknowledged that they were aware of the OEEO complaint. ( See Pl.'s Opp'n 11; Mashhadian Rivera Dep. 54:11-23). At the time of his deposition in this case, Plaintiff was unaware of the status of the OEEO proceedings. (Mashhadian Jeune Dep. 107:9-12).

Plaintiff also testified that Sergeant Polanco treated him unfairly on a number of other occasions, although the record does not make clear when the conduct occurred. Specifically, Plaintiff testified that Sergeant Polanco threatened him with various forms of discipline (Mashhadian Jeune Dep. 56:12-17, 57:7-24), yelled at him ( id. 57:23-24), gave him particularly difficult and undesirable assignments ( id. 91:19-92:2), subjected him to excessive scrutiny ( id. 96:12-17), denied him allotted meal times ( id. 81:13-15; Pl.'s Opp'n 6), separated him from his partner (Mashhadian Jeune Dep. 111:21), gave him low performance evaluations ( id. 59:9-60:11), and denied him credit for two arrests from crime scenes that he had investigated (Mashhadian Decl., Ex. H ("50-h Hearing") 63:6-64:24).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff brings four types of claims. First, he brings claims for discrimination based on his race and national origin, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") (Compl. (Docket No. 1) ¶¶ 58-63), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ( id. ¶¶ 35-38), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ( id. ¶¶ 39-44), the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL") ( id. ¶¶ 64-67), and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL") ( id. ¶¶ 68-71). Second, he claims that Defendants unlawfully retaliated against him, also under Title VII ( id. ¶¶ 58-63), Section 1981 ( id. ¶¶ 35-38), Section 1983 ( id. ¶¶ 39-44), the NYSHRL ( id. ¶¶ 64-67), and NYCHRL ( id. ¶¶ 68-71). Third, he alleges that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, presumably also in violation of the aforementioned federal, state, and local statutes. ( Id. ¶¶ 45-52). Finally, he brings an array of state tort claims. ( Id. ¶¶ 72-97). The Court addresses each set of claims in turn.

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence and the pleadings demonstrate "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236 (2d Cir. 2012) (per curiam). A dispute over an issue of material fact qualifies as genuine if the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); accord Roe v. City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 35 (2d Cir. 2008). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). "In moving for summary judgment against a party who will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant's burden will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the ...


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