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Schibli v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 2, 2014

ALEX SCHIBLI, Plaintiff,
v.
THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

NELSON S. ROMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alex Schibli ("Plaintiff") commenced the instant action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 621-634 against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ("Defendant"), seeking monetary damages for allegedly discriminating against Plaintiff on the basis of his age.

Defendant now moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, for summary judgment, asserting there is no genuine dispute of material fact and Defendant is entitled to judgment on Plaintiff's age discrimination claim as a matter of law. Defendant aver that Plaintiff's age discrimination claims prior to April 23, 2009 are time-barred, [1] Plaintiff cannot show that the Port Authority discriminated against him, and Plaintiff's claims for hostile work environment are legally insufficient. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. THE FACTS

The facts are gleaned from the Defendant's 56.1 statement, affidavits, and exhibits submitted with this motion, and are not in dispute except where noted. Because Plaintiff did not submit a 56.1 statement, Local Rule 56.1(c) requires this Court to deem the statement of material facts set forth in Defendant's 56.1 statement to be admitted.

Plaintiff Alex Schibli was born on December 3, 1939 in Baden, Switzerland. He immigrated to the United States in 1998. (Deposition of Alex Schibli dated April 16, 2013, hereafter "Schibli Tr.", pp. 6-7, annexed as Exhibit "A" to the declaration of Kathleen Gill Miller dated October 24, 2013 ("Miller decl.").) Plaintiff was employed by Artenyra, a temporary employment agency who contracted with the Port Authority to provide Mr. Schibli's services from 1999 to 2004. (Schibli Tr. p. 12, 11. 22-25, p. 13, 11. 2-6, annexed as Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.) From 1999 to 2004, plaintiff worked under Hector Orsini, who hired him in Real Estate on various energy saving projects. (Hector Orsini's sworn answers to written questions, annexed as Exhibit "B" to Miller decl.)

In April 2004, at age 65, Plaintiff applied for a temporary position with the Port Authority. (Mr. Schibli's letter application, resume and the Port Authority's employment application, annexed as Exhibit "C" to Miller decl.) On June 3, 2004, the Port Authority's Human Resources Department sent a letter to Plaintiff extending him an offer as a Project Coordinator in the Office of Policy and Planning which expressly set forth the terms of his employment as follows: (1) his hiring was limited to the duration of the assignment; (2) it was terminable at will; and (3) the Port Authority was under no obligation to offer him a permanent position. Plaintiff does not dispute that he signed this letter on June 7, 2004, stating that he read and understood it. (Letter of June 3, 2004, annexed as Exhibit "D" to Miller decl.; Schibli Tr. pp. 18-20, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.) On June 7, 2004, plaintiff also signed a document prepared by the Human Resources Department which restated the terms of his temporary employment and stated that in the event a permanent position became available, his placement in that position would be contingent upon his meeting all the qualifications for that position, including interviews and tests. (Memorandum of June 7, 2004, annexed as Exhibit "E" to Miller decl.)

From 2004 to 2007, Plaintiff worked under the supervision of Gail Yvette Davis on various energy projects in the Office of Policy and Planning, including working with the consultant Con Edison Solutions on energy saving proposals and energy conservation projects such as Peak Load Management at the Port Authority facilities. (Schibli Tr. pp. 22-29, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.)

In 2007, Plaintiff, Gail Yvette Davis and their work assignments were transferred to the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance. Christopher Zeppie was the director of that office. (Schibli Tr. pp. 30-31, 70, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.)

During 2004-2009, Mr. Schibli worked with the Technology Department of the Port Authority to develop a web page for energy awareness and coordinated with outside consultants hired by the Port Authority to do energy audits at the Port Authority's facilities. (Schibli Tr. pp. 51-65, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.; Gail Yvette Davis's sworn answer to plaintiff's written questions, pp. 8, 11, 14 annexed as Exhibit "F" to Miller decl.).

In February 2007, plaintiff applied for the position of Energy Management Specialist under Hector Orsini, but David Obradovich, who plaintiff believes had previously worked under Hector Orsini, was selected. (Schibli Tr. pp. 131-134, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.).

From the time of his hire in June 2004, until his termination, plaintiff was paid an annual salary of $66, 716. (Schibli Tr. p. 144, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.).

Christine Weydig joined the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance on January 20, 2009 as Deputy Director. (Affidavit of Christine Weydig, sworn to October 25, 2013, par. 2) ("Weydig aff.").

Alex Schibli testified that there were regular Monday morning meetings of staff conducted by the Director, Chris Zeppie, which were noticed through e-mail by the office administrator, but that after February 2009, he did not always receive notices. He acknowledged that on occasion, he received notices but did not attend. (Schibli Tr. pp. 155-162, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.).

Christine Weydig held weekly staff meetings which were noticed to all her staff including plaintiff by means of a recurring invitation on Microsoft Outlook. Plaintiff did not always attend these meetings but did not complain to Ms. Weydig that he was not receiving notifications. (Weydig aff. pars. 4-5).

Plaintiff testified that he was excluded from two meetings at Stewart Airport in 2009. (Schibli Tr. pp. 154-155, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.). He further testified that he was invited to four meetings on the boiler project for which the Port Authority hired an outside contractor in January 2009, but he was not invited to other meetings by the department (not his own) scheduling the meetings. (Schibli Tr. pp. 162-164, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.). Plaintiff further testified that neither he nor his supervisor, Gail Yvette Davis, were invited to five meetings taking place between February and March 2007, run by the New York Power Authority ("NYPA") dealing with solar PV project at Port Authority facilities. (Schibli Tr. pp. 167-177, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.). Christine Weydig attended meetings at Stewart Airport to which plaintiff was not invited because they concerned biomass, which was not a project to which he was assigned. (Weydig aff. par. 7). There were no meetings with NYPA in 2009 concerning solar energy because NYPA withdrew from the project. (Weydig aff. par. 25).

In early 2009, plaintiff was assigned by Christine Weydig to the Port Authority to attend meetings concerning the Boiler Management Working Group and to make a recommendations. He made an oral recommendation that the Port Authority do a further study. (Schibli Tr. pp. 174-177, Exhibit "A" to Miller decl.). Mr. Schibli had no role in the Boiler Management Working Group other than to attend meetings and report back to his department. (Weydig aff. par. 26).

Plaintiff worked on PV solar energy of Newark Liberty International Airport ("Newark Airport") in 2007 when he was in the Office of Policy and Planning, but the system was not installed and subsequently in 2009, individuals at Newark Airport began a new solar project. ...


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