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Giambattista v. America Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 20, 2014

LOUANN GIAMBATTISTA, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant

Page 285

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 286

For the Plaintiff: Steven A. Morelli, Esq., Paul Bartels, Esq., Of Counsel, The Law Office of Steven A. Morelli, P.C., Garden City, NY.

For the Defendant: Michelle S. Silverman, Esq., Ashley J. Hale, Esq., Melissa C. Rodriguez, Esq., Of Counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Princeton, NJ.

OPINION

Page 287

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

ARTHUR D. SPATT, United States District Judge.

On June 26, 2013, the Plaintiff Louann Giambattista (the " Plaintiff" ), an employee of the Defendant American Airlines, Inc. (the " Defendant" ), commenced this action, alleging that the Defendant discriminated against her due to a perceived mental disability and fostered a hostile work environment on the basis of that perceived mental disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111, et seq. (the " ADA" ) and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290, et seq. (the " NYSHRL" ).

On November 12, 2013, the Defendant moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (" Fed. R. Civ. P." ) 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

On January 20, 2014, the Plaintiff cross-moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) for leave to file an amended complaint. In doing so, the Plaintiff did not assert new causes of action. Rather, the Plaintiff included additional factual allegations in support of her pending causes of action and in response to the Defendant's arguments in opposition.

Page 288

For the following reasons, (1) the Plaintiff's motion to amend is granted and (2) and the Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The following facts are drawn from the original complaint and construed in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the non-moving party on the motion to dismiss.

The Plaintiff has worked as a flight attendant for the Defendant since 1979. She is a member of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (the " Union" ), and her employment with the Defendant is governed by a collective bargaining agreement (the " CBA" ) between the Union and the Defendant. Throughout her employment, the Plaintiff has consistently received positive performance reviews.

According to the Plaintiff, in February 2012, two of her co-workers, Connie Bolt and Dora Sterling -- both flight attendants -- reported to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (" ICE" ) and to the Defendant that they believed that the Plaintiff had illegally brought her pet rat on board an international flight. The Plaintiff alleges that her co-workers filed this report because they " were under the false perception . . . that [the Plaintiff] had a mental disability in which she was unable to be away from her pet rats for any period of time." (Compl. ¶ 13.). Further, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant " sanctioned, endorsed, and adopted [the co-workers'] actions, and was apparently under the same false perception that [the Plaintiff] had a mental disability." (Id.).

On February 26, 2012, an ICE agent detained the Plaintiff in a Miami airport and interrogated her about her flight history and future travel plans. The agent searched the Plaintiff's personal items and scanned them through an x-ray machine. The search, which lasted about an hour, did not uncover anything suspicious.

On February 27, 2012, the Plaintiff was again searched in the Miami airport by the same ICE agent, who informed the Plaintiff that he was working on a " direct tip" that she might possess contraband. (Id. at ¶ 16.).

On March 1, 2012, the Plaintiff was " stalked" and followed through a terminal of the John F. Kennedy airport by one of the Defendant's gate agents, until two of the Defendant's security agents and 2 ICE agents apprehended her. The four agents, carrying un-concealed weapons, detained and interrogated the Plaintiff for over an hour in a small room, at one point threatening to " strip search" her. During the interrogation, the door to the room remained open and some of the Plaintiff's fellow flight attendants could observe the incident. At the conclusion of the interrogation, one of the Defendant's security agents asked the Plaintiff if she had " any enemies" at the airline, and queried her whether anyone there wanted her to be in trouble.

The Plaintiff maintains that the March 1, 2012 interrogation severely traumatized her and caused her to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which negatively affected her ability to perform certain job functions.

On March 2, 2012, the Plaintiff was informed by the Union that an unnamed individual had filed a report with the Defendant, which alleged that the Plaintiff carried pet rats ...


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