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Castagna v. Luceno

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

March 5, 2014

Patricia Castagna, Nick Sarracco, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Bill Luceno, Majestic Kitchens, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

Submitted: December 4, 2013

Patricia Castagna appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Cathy Seibel, Judge) dismissing Castagna's state-law tort claims as time-barred. We join the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding as a matter of federal law that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") does not toll the limitations period for state-law tort claims, even for those claims arising out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC charge. We accordingly AFFIRM the district court's dismissal of Castagna's tort claims.

E. CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., Uniondale, N.Y., for Plaintiffs- Appellants

COSTANTINO FRAGALE, Mamaroneck, N.Y., for Defendants-Appellees (on submission).

Before: Livingston, Lohier, Circuit Judges, and Stein, District Judge. [*]

Sidney H. Stein, District Judge:

Patricia Castagna, a former employee of Majestic Kitchens, Inc., appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Cathy Seibel, Judge) dismissing Castagna's state-law tort claims as time-barred. Castagna contends that the statute of limitations applicable to her tort claims against both Majestic and her former boss, Bill Luceno, was tolled by her filing of a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Our Court has not previously determined whether filing an EEOC charge tolls the statute of limitations for state tort claims arising from the same nucleus of facts as underlie the EEOC charge. We now join the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding as a matter of federal law that filing an EEOC charge does not toll the limitations period for state-law tort claims, even if those claims arise out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC charge. We accordingly affirm the district court's dismissal of Castagna's tort claims.[1]

I. Background

Castagna worked as an accountant, and later as a receptionist, at Majestic Kitchens, Inc. in Mamaroneck, New York from April 1, 2005 until she resigned on July 9, 2008. Bill Luceno, majority owner of Majestic, supervised Castagna in both roles.

Castagna alleges that during her tenure Luceno regularly subjected women to an "abusive . . . work environment characterized by lewd, racial and sexual comments and innuendos, profanity, offensive physical contact and other inappropriate behavior." Luceno allegedly yelled at female employees, including Castagna, "in a manner that appalled virtually all of the other employees, " and some of Majestic's customers as well. Male employees, Castagna claims, "were not subjected to the same treatment or public abuse."

On July 9, 2008, with the receptionist's desk understaffed, Luceno asked Castagna to cut short her lunch in order that she could "cover[] the front desk telephone." According to Castagna's complaint, when Castagna asked for compensatory time in exchange, Luceno "blew up, " "scream[ing]" and "swearing, " and "shoved" Castagna's computer monitor at her. Fearing "for her personal and physical safety, " Castagna promptly resigned from Majestic. Soon thereafter, she filed a police report over "what Luceno had done to her that day."

Approximately 3 ½ months later, Castagna filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging, as relevant here, employment discrimination because of her sex. Castagna's charge described Luceno's shoving of the computer monitor, among other episodes. After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on August 14, 2009, see 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1), Castagna commenced this action by filing a complaint in federal district court on November 9, 2009.

The complaint alleges, inter alia, that Luceno and Majestic subjected Castagna to a hostile work environment and constructively discharged her, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., and that defendants are liable for the torts of intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), assault, and battery, in violation of New York law. The IIED claim is based on Luceno's ongoing ...


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