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Sullivan v. Nyc Department of Investigation

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 26, 2014

SHARON SULLIVAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NYC DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION et al., Defendants.

OPINION

THOMAS P. GRIESA, District Judge.

Sharon Sullivan brings this action alleging employment discrimination on the basis of her race, religion, and age. She also alleges retaliation resulting from her complaints of discrimination.

Defendants argue that Sullivan is precluded from relitigating in this court whether defendants' acts were discriminatory because that issue was previously decided by a state agency. Defendants contend that this court must give preclusive effect to the state agency's determination and enter judgment on the pleadings. The motion is granted.

The Complaint

The court's February 21, 2013, opinion extensively reviewed the allegations in Sullivan's complaint. For purposes of this motion, only a brief review of the facts is necessary.

As part of a staff reduction, Sullivan was transferred from the New York City Department of Investigation to the New York City Housing Authority. As part of the transfer, she lost the seniority she had earned through her years of employment with the city. She alleges that once in the new position, her supervisors, Kelvin Jeremiah and Bergia Telesford, did not provide her with the necessary software, supplies, and support that she needed to fulfill her duties. Sullivan also alleges that her supervisors verbally abused her and gave her unjustified negative performance reviews. Sullivan was the only Caucasian Roman Catholic in the office, and she alleges that her African-American coworkers did not receive the same mistreatment. Sullivan alleges that when she complained about the discriminatory treatment, no supervisor addressed the problems; instead, the discrimination escalated. Ultimately, Sullivan and Jeremiah had a heated exchange, which led to Sullivan's termination.

Procedural History

Prior to filing suit in federal court, on July 25, 2011, Sullivan filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, alleging that defendants discriminated against her based on age, creed, race, and sex in violation of the New York Human Rights Law based on the same facts now before this court. Her complaint also alleged retaliation based on her complaints of discrimination. In response to this complaint, defendants filed a position statement, denying Sullivan's allegations and requesting dismissal of the suit.

On January 20, 2012, after investigating Sullivan's allegations, the Division issued an order, finding that there was no probable cause to believe that defendants engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices. Specifically, the Division stated that:

The allegations are not sufficiently supported in order to justify a finding for the complainant. Our investigation does not substantiate a causal nexus between the actions complained of and the protected status of complainant as a member of any of the classes as cited in this complaint.

On February 22, 2012, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted the findings of the New York State Division and dismissed Sullivan's federal discrimination charge.

On April 4, 2012, Sullivan filed the present action, seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

In response to defendant's first motion to dismiss, Sullivan voluntarily withdrew her state and local law claims, as well as her claims under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Sullivan confirmed her withdrawal of these claims in her papers opposing defendants' current motion. Thus, the § 1983 claim is the only remaining claim. In the court's February 21 order, the court declined to dismiss the § ...


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