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Henry v. NYC Health & Hosp. Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 10, 2014

COLLETTE HENRY, Plaintiff,
v.
NYC HEALTH & HOSPITAL CORP., LIEUTENANT JOHN ARENA, individually and in his personal capacity, CAPTAIN RONNELL BOYLAN, in his individual and official capacity, JOHN & JANE DOES 1-10, individually and in their personal capacity, XYZ MUNICIPAL CORPS. & ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants

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For Collette Henry, Plaintiff: Aymen A. Aboushi, The Aboushi Law Firm, New York, NY.

For NYC Health and Hospital Corporation, City of New York, Lieutenant John Arena, individually and in his personal capacity, Captain Ronnel Boylan, in his individual capacity, Captain Ronnel Boylan, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants: Shawn Matthew Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Department, New York, NY.

OPINION

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OPINION & ORDER

Paul A. Engelmayer, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Collette Henry (" Henry" ), an employee of the New York City Health & Hospital Corporation (" HHC" ), brings claims of discrimination and retaliation against HHC and several former supervisors (collectively, " defendants" ), under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e, et seq. (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (" § 1981" ), New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § § 290 et seq. (" NYSHRL" ), and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City Admin. Code § § 8-101 et seq. (" NYCHRL" ). Henry alleges, inter alia, that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race and gender, and retaliated against for having engaged in a protected act. Defendants now move to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss Henry's Title VII, § 1981, and NYSHRL claims is granted; and the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction as to Henry's NYCHRL claims.

I. Background[1]

A. Facts of the Case

Henry is an African-American woman with blonde hair. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 3, 8. At all relevant times, she was employed by HHC as a police officer. Id. ¶ ¶ 7, 9. Lieutenant John Arena (" Arena" ) and Captain

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Ronnel Boylan (" Boylan" ), also HHC employees, were her supervisors. Id. ¶ ¶ 5, 6, 10.

Henry alleges that, during her employment, " Arena made several racially charged and discriminatory remarks," and on " several occasions" " publicly mock[ed] [her] hair color and skin tone." Id. ¶ ¶ 11, 38. Specifically, Henry alleges that " [o]n one occasion, during roll-call and in front of other police officers, Defendant Arena publicly admonished [her] while she was sitting in another room because he claimed that [her] hair and skin tone did not match." Id. ¶ 12. Arena " then proceeded to remove [her] from roll call and send her home . . . because her skin tone did not match her hair." Id. ¶ 16.

Shortly thereafter, Henry " complained to other supervisors of Arena's conduct." Id. ¶ 17. Following these complaints, Arena " refused to grant Plaintiff overtime work, despite the fact that she was next on the list for overtime." Id. ¶ 21. Thereafter, " Arena continued to interfere with [Henry's] job responsibilities, including refusing her overtime, sending her home, and instructing other commanders to not work with her," id. ¶ 25, as well as " giv[ing] her worse assignments than others" and " undesirable shifts normally relegated to newer hires," id. ¶ 37; see also id. ¶ 32. Arena and Boylan also " concocted a scheme to have [Henry] written up on false charges of sleeping at work." Id. ¶ 27; see also id. ¶ ¶ 28, 35, 41.

B. Procedural History

On September 30, 2013, Henry filed the Complaint in this action. Dkt. 1. It alleged that defendants[2] discriminated against her on the basis of her " race, color, gender, and ethnicity," subjected her to a hostile work environment, and retaliated against her for complaining about that discrimination, in violation of Title VII. On December 16, 2013, defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Dkt. 7.

On January 6, 2014, Henry filed the Amended Complaint. Dkt. 10. The Amended Complaint drops Henry's earlier hostile work environment claim, but leaves her discrimination and retaliation claims intact.[3] The Amended Complaint also adds violations of § 1981, NYSHRL, and NYCHRL. On November 18, 2013, defendants submitted a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint, Dkt. 11, and a supporting memorandum of law, Dkt. 12 (" Def. Br." ). Defendants argue, inter alia, that the Amended Complaint fails to state discrimination and retaliation claims upon which relief can be granted. On January 30, 2014, Henry submitted a memorandum of law in opposition to that motion. Dkt. 13 (" Pl. Br." ). On February 6, 2014, defendants

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filed a reply. Dkt. 14 (" Def. Reply Br." ).

II. Applicable Legal Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must plead " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A claim has " facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A complaint is properly dismissed where, as a matter of law, " the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558.

In considering a motion to dismiss, a district court " must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, and 'draw[ ] all inferences in the plaintiff's favor.'" Allaire Corp. v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006); see also Famous Horse Inc. v. 5th Ave. Photo Inc., 624 F.3d 106, 108 (2d Cir. 2010). However, " the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. " Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. " [R]ather, the complaint's factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, i.e., enough to make the claim plausible." Arista Records, LLC v. Doe 3, 604 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570) (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in Arista Records ); accord Goldin v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., No. 12 Civ. 9217 (JPO), 2013 WL 1759575, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. April 24, 2013).

III. Discussion

Henry claims that defendants discriminated against her on the basis of race and gender, and retaliated against her for complaining about this discrimination. As noted, Henry brings claims under federal law (Title VII and ยง 1981), state law (NYSHRL), and city law (NYCHRL). The Court analyzes the substantive claims brought under Title VII and NYSHRL law together, because the substantive standards for liability under these ...


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