United States District Court, E.D. New York
Debbie Tappin, pro se Roosevelt, NY for Plaintiff.
Valerie K. Ferrier, Esq., MTA Bus Company, New York, NY, Michael Dennis Bosso, Esq., Colleran, O'Hara & Mills, LLP, Garden City, NY, for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.
Currently pending before the Court are: (1) Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority's ("MSBA") motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint (Docket Entry 31); (2) Transport Workers Union of America, Local 252's (the "Union") motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint (Docket Entry 33); and (3) pro se plaintiff Debbie Tappin's ("Plaintiff") motion to disqualify the Union's counsel (Docket Entry 36). For the following reasons, MSBA's and the Union's respective motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint are GRANTED, and Plaintiff's motion to disqualify the Union's counsel is DENIED.
The Court presumes general familiarity with the factual background of this case, which is discussed in the Court's January 18, 2013 Memorandum and Order (the "January 2013 Order, " Docket Entry 28).
Plaintiff initially commenced this employment discrimination action on April 23, 2012 against MSBA, Patricia Bowden ("Bowden"), Norma Perez ("Perez"), and the Union. Thereafter, the defendants filed motions to dismiss the Complaint. On January 18, 2013, the Court granted Bowden's and Perez's motions to dismiss, thus terminating them from the action. (See January 2013 Order.) The Court also dismissed the claims against MSBA and the Union, but allowed Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint. The Court found that, although Plaintiff used a form complaint and "checked the boxes indicating that she was discriminated against on the basis of color, " her allegations were conclusory and she had not sufficiently alleged that either MSBA or the Union took any action on the basis of her race or color. (January 2013 Order at 9, 11.)
Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on February 14, 2013. (Docket Entry 29.) Like in her original Complaint, Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that she was employed as a bus operator for MSBA and was a member of the Union in 2010. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-16; January 2013 Order at 2.) At that time, Perez was a dispatcher employed by MSBA and Plaintiff's supervisor. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Part of Perez's job responsibilities included collecting employees' time cards. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20.)
According to the Amended Complaint, Perez had a history of discrimination against black females and Plaintiff "witnessed many unpleasant and racist confrontations between Norma Perez and black female bus operators." (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) For example, Perez referred to black, female bus operators using derogatory language and twice submitted "false reports" against two black female operators, resulting in their termination. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 19.)
On July 27, 2010, Plaintiff asked a co-worker to submit her time card. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) The co-worker did so, but Perez refused to accept the card claiming that it was incomplete and that Plaintiff would not be paid until the card was completed. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) The co-worker found Plaintiff in the parking lot, and Plaintiff returned to the office. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22; January 2013 Order at 2.) Plaintiff filled out her card but forgot to check her schedule for the following day. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) As such, she called the office and Perez answered. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) Perez informed Plaintiff that she should come to the job site and check the schedule herself and hung up the phone. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.)
Days later, Plaintiff was told to contact her Union Shop Steward, Grover Howell, and report to MSBA General Superintendent John Freeman. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff was fired, but the Union grieved her termination and a hearing was held on August 10, 2010. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23-24.) According to the Amended Complaint, it was not until the hearing that Plaintiff saw two complaints from Perez alleging insubordination. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff advised her union representative that Perez's allegations were untrue and that cameras in Perez's office would confirm Plaintiff's account of events. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff also informed the representative of others who would attest to Perez's history of asserting false allegations against black female bus operators. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) In fact, Plaintiff recounted an incident in 2010 in which "Liz Doe" and Perez were "involved in a fist fight "because Norma Perez had filed a false report on Liz Doe." (Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) The union representative did not investigate the information Plaintiff provided to him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 27.)
Plaintiff's termination was sustained, and the Union appealed the decision to arbitration. (January 2013 Order at 3.) The arbitration took place on September 8, 2010 and Plaintiff was represented by the Union Vice-President, Jay Brucaleri. (Am. Compl. ¶ 30.) The Union did not provide Plaintiff with a licensed attorney. (Am. Compl. ¶ 30.) At the hearing, Mr. Brucaleri informed Plaintiff that he did not investigate the information provided to him because he did not want to get other employees involved, "otherwise there would be some retaliation from MSBA if they testified at the hearing." (Am. Compl. ¶ 30.) On September 24, 2010, the arbitrator issued his Opinion and Award, finding that Plaintiff was not credible, but reinstating Plaintiff's employment as this was her first violation involving threatening behavior. (Am. Compl. ¶ 31; January 2013 Order at 3-4.) Plaintiff returned to work but experienced consistent harassment from her supervisors and management. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32.)
On or around May 2, 2011, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against the Union with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (January 2013 Order at 4.) Plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on April 5, 2012. (Am. Compl. ¶ 35.) In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the she was discriminated against on the basis of her ...