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Okolie v. Laufer

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 31, 2014

CHARLES OKOLIE, Pro Se Plaintiff,
v.
ISAAC LAUFER, MONTCLAIR CARE CENTER INC. d/b/a Marquis Rehab and Nursing Center, and LORI MAUREL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. KATHLEEN TOMLINSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Pro se Plaintiff Charles Okolie ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendants Isaac Laufer ("Laufer"), Montclair Care Center Inc. d/b/a/Marquis Rehab and Nursing Center ("Marquis") and Marquis employee Lori Maurel ("Maurel") alleging sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of race and color, and retaliation under Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Laufer is alleged to be the principal owner of Marquis. Plaintiff, an African-American male, was formerly employed at Marquis as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Plaintiff alleges that co-worker Maurel subjected him to "unwanted and inappropriate sexually related" comments and behavior during his employment with Marquis. Plaintiff reports that Marquis and Laufer failed to properly investigate his complaints of workplace harassment until, ultimately, he was terminated in retaliation for voicing his concerns about this conduct.

Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel responses to his Second Request for Production of Documents from Defendants Laufer and Marquis. Plaintiff contends that the responses are deficient. See Plaintiff's Affidavit in Support of Order to Show Cause to Compel ("Pl.'s Mot.") [DE 67]. Counsel for Laufer and Marquis oppose the motion to compel, arguing that they have adequately responded to Plaintiff's document requests. See Defendants' Opposition Letter ("Defs.' Opp.") [DE 68]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to compel is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Amended Complaint

The instant claims were first asserted by Plaintiff in an October 20, 2009 Charge of Discrimination filed against Marquis with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶ 11 [DE 4]. On August 4, 2011, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" letter. Id. ¶ 12. The original pleading was filed with the Court on November 3, 2011. See Complaint [DE 10].

In his February 14, 2012 Amended Complaint, Plaintiff states that he commenced employment with Marquis as an LPN on or about February 20, 2008. Am. Compl. ¶ 13. Plaintiff maintains that during his employment at Marquis, he was discriminated against on the basis of his race, color, and sex with respect to the terms, conditions and privileges of his employment. Id. ¶ 15. Moreover, Plaintiff asserts that while he worked at Marquis, he "opposed, objected to and/or complained of unlawful employment discrimination based on race, color, sex and unlawful employment practices." Id. ¶ 16. According to the Plaintiff, however, the Defendants failed to investigate or take any remedial action in response to Plaintiff's opposition to "objections and/or complaints about Defendants' unlawful discrimination." Id. ¶ 17. Instead, the Defendants unlawfully retaliated against Plaintiff for "opposing, objecting to and/or complaining of unlawful discrimination, regarding terms, conditions and privileges of employment and employment opportunities." Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff claims he was ultimately discharged "because he engaged in such protected conduct." Id.

Defendant Maurel is alleged to have made "unwanted and inappropriate sexually related comments and engaged in sexually related behavior" towards the Plaintiff. Am. Compl. ¶ 20. For example, Plaintiff states he was subjected to "unrequested neck and shoulder massages." Id. When these comments and actions were rejected by Plaintiff, Defendant Maurel "engaged in verbal abuse and harassment which led to Defendants participating in a pattern and practice of workplace retaliation against Plaintiff." Id. By way of example, Plaintiff asserts that on "many occasions, Defendant Maurel threatened Plaintiff that if he did not do what she wanted him to do, that she would tell her personal friend, Defendant Laufer, to terminate Plaintiff's employment." Id. ¶ 21.

Plaintiff, furthermore, alleges that Maurel "engaged in inappropriate and unwarranted sexual behavior towards Plaintiff by wearing low cut blouses that exposed her cleavage and breasts making Plaintiff feel intimidated, especially when Defendant Maurel would attempt to sit very close to him and/or when leaning over Plaintiff's desk to speak to him." Am. Compl. ¶ 22. These actions made it difficult for Plaintiff to perform his job. Id.

When he reported the foregoing conduct to Jerome Enella, the Administrator of the Nursing Home, Plaintiff contends that Enella failed to investigate or take any remedial action in response to his complaints. Am. Compl. ¶ 23. Rather, Plaintiff states that Enella "subjected Plaintiff to verbal abuse and participated in a pattern and practice of workplace retaliation against Plaintiff." Id. In addition to Enella, Plaintiff alleges that he was also subjected to "verbal abuse and intimidation" in a "pattern of workplace retaliation" initiated by other Marquis employees, including Melanie Estepa and Jeffrey Marcus. Id. ¶¶ 24-25.

Plaintiff also identifies other instances of "workplace retaliation and harassment." Am. Compl. ¶ 26. Plaintiff states that he was "reassigned to another unit" at Marquis where he "was denied the proper supplies, documentation and medications" to provide proper services to the residents at the facility. Id. Although Defendants were allegedly notified of these "deficiencies, " they took no steps to cure them. Id. Thereafter, when Plaintiff notified the "proper authorities/agencies responsible for the regulation of these nursing services, Defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of workplace retaliation and harassment against Plaintiff." Id.

In a further instance of workplace harassment and retaliation, according to Plaintiff, the Defendants reported him to the New York State Department of Health ("DOH") "in an attempt to have Plaintiff stripped of his nursing license." Am. Compl. ¶ 27. Plaintiff states that the DOH conducted an investigation and determined that there "were no infractions committed by Plaintiff and dismissed Defendants' allegations." Id. Further, Defendants retaliated against and harassed the Plaintiff by "interfering with his employment [with] prospective employers." Id. ¶ 28.

According to Plaintiff, Defendant Laufer was "employed in a position of authority and in a managerial capacity and committed unlawful conduct" against the Plaintiff. Am. Compl. ¶ 33. The Defendants, according to Plaintiff's contentions, "ratified, approved, and/or condoned the unlawful conduct of the Defendant Laufer, as well as the other Defendants' employees and the representatives of the Defendants against" the Plaintiff." Id.

B. Relevant Procedural History

On March 8, 2013, Judge Bianco heard oral argument on the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendants Laufer and Marquis as well as a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Maurel. See DE 56, 57. ...


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