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Volpi v. Ctr. Moriches Union Free Sch. Dist.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 24, 2014

JOAN VOLPI, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTER MORICHES UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT, RUSSELL J. STEWART, LYNDA ADAMS, JOE MCHEFFEY, and EDWARD CASWELL, (Sued in Their Official and Individual capacaties pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983), Defendants

For Plaintiff: Kyle T. Pulis, Esq., SCOTT MICHAEL MISHKIN, P.C., Islandia, NY.

For Defendants: Steven C. Stem, Esq., Melissa L. Hotlzer, Esq., Kaitlyn R. McKenna, Esq., SOKOLOFF STERN LLP, Carle Place, New York.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LEONARD D. WEXLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Joan Volpi (" Volpi" or " Plaintiff" ) brings this action claiming that she was discriminated as a result of her age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment

Page 256

Act, 29 U.S.C. § § 621 et seq., (" ADEA" ) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Center Moriches Union Free School (" Center Moriches" or " District" ), Russell J. Stewart (" Stewart" ), Lynda Adams (" Adams" ), Joe McHeffey (" McHeffey" ), and Edward Caswell (" Caswell" ) (collectively " Defendants" ) move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (" Fed.R.Civ.P." ), Rule 12(c). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

According to Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff, born on August 2, 1954, was first hired by the Defendant District in 1985. She worked as a business teacher until 2004, when she went on maternity leave, returning in September 2008. From the early 1990s through 2004, she served as the business department chairperson, and again for the 2010-2011 school year. Over the years, she has taught some classes out of her subject area on the middle school and high school level. Her work record was exemplary.

In February 2011, Volpi was informed by the District Superintendent, Defendant Stewart, and the Deputy Superintendent, Defendant Adams, that she was receiving a " pink slip" and facing possible termination as a result of the elimination of the business department. See Declaration of Steven C. Stem (" Stern Dec." ), Exhibit (" Ex." ) B: " Pink slip" letter. Plaintiff was the oldest, most experienced and highest paid teacher of the thirty to forty teachers to receive a " pink slip."

In March 2011, Plaintiff met with Defendant Stewart to discuss the situation. She was told the business department, as well as all electives on the high school level, were being eliminated for budget reasons. Plaintiff asked if the board of education would take a contingency letter for her retirement, which she hoped to rescind if a full-time position was made available to her. She also offered to teach outside her subject area, but was advised that no such positions were available, since all elective positions were being eliminated. She was assured the business department was going to be eliminated and no full-time positions were going to be available.[1] Motivated by the need to keep her health insurance, Plaintiff was forced to submit an " Intent of Possible Early Retirement" on or about March 22, 2011, and had until April 1, 2011 to submit her letter or lose her health benefits.

According to the complaint, ultimately the business department was not eliminated, nor were the other elective courses. Other younger teachers were retained by the District, including a younger teacher who replaced Plaintiff in the business department in a full-time position. As a result of being constructively discharged by forcing her early retirement, Plaintiff lost more than one-half of her pension.

Plaintiff complained to her superiors that she was being discriminated on the basis of her age, which complaint was not investigated. Plaintiff also complained to the Board of Education, which put the item on the agenda for a ...


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