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Golf v. New York City Department of Finance

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 23, 2014





ROBERT W. SWEET, District Judge.

Defendants New York City Department of Finance ("DOF") and New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR") (collectively the "Defendants" or "City Defendants") has moved pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b) to dismiss pro se plaintiff Mabel Marie Golf's ("Golf" or the "Plaintiff") Complaint (the "Complaint"). Based on the conclusions set forth below, City Defendants' motion is granted, and the Plaintiff is granted leave to replead within 20 days.

Prior Proceedings

The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was forced to retire from her position at the DOF on September 1, 2011 as a result of disability discrimination. Plaintiff has previously asserted that she was forced to retire due to disability discrimination in other fora. On April 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint with the SDHR that alleged that she was harassed and forced to retire as a result of her disability, race, sex and in retaliation for opposing such discrimination (the "SDHR Proceeding"). (Tracy Decl., Ex. A, at 2). Plaintiff also alleged that she was sexually harassed in her sleep by a DOF manager in 2006 and 2011, was retaliated against and that "she was denied promotions and salary increases because of her sex and race." ( Id. at 1-2). In a determination dated July 18, 2012, the Director of the SDHR's Office of Sexual Harassment issues found no probable cause to believe that the DOF engaged in any of the unlawful discriminatory practices set forth in Plaintiff's complaint in the SDHR Proceeding (the "SDHR Determination"). ( Id. ).

After the SDHR received Plaintiff's complaint, the complaint was forwarded to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). On January 22, 2013, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights in regard to Plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), as codified, 42 U.S.C. § 12112-12117.

On November 28, 2012, Plaintiff commenced a special proceeding in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, against DOF, SDHR, and Plaintiff's union, CWA Local 1180 Legal Department, challenging the SDHR Determination (the "NY Action"). ( See id., Ex. B, at 3; Golf v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Finance, Index No. 402479/2012 (N.Y. Sup.Ct. June 3, 2013)). In a decision dated June 7, 2013 (the "NY Opinion" or "Opinion"), the Honorable Eileen A. Rakower denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding on the grounds that the petition was time-barred because Plaintiff failed to bring the proceeding within sixty days of service of the order of SDHR, as required by 22 NYCRR § 202.57(a) and New York Executive Law § 298. (Tracy Decl., Ex. B, at 4). The Opinion held that even if the petition were timely, the record demonstrated that all actions taken had a legitimate business reason because two medical evaluations found Plaintiff mentally unfit to perform the duties of her job. ( Id. at 4).

Plaintiff filed the Complaint in the Southern District of New York on April 26, 2013. City Defendants filed the instant motion on November 27, 2013. Briefing was submitted, and the matter was marked fully submitted on January 22, 2014.

Allegations of the Complaint

Because this is a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), many of the following facts, which this Court assumes to be true, are drawn from the Complaint. See Tellabs, Inc. v. Maker Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127 S.Ct. 2499, 168 L.Ed.2d 179 (2007) ("[F]aced with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a § 10(b) action, courts must, as with any motion to dismiss for failure to plead a claim on which relief can be granted, accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true."). Other facts are drawn from matters of public record or attached to the Complaint as exhibits of which this Court takes judicial notice. See Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 153 (2d Cir. 2002) (court resolving a motion to dismiss can consider: (1) documents that plaintiff attached to the pleadings; (2) documents to which plaintiff referred in the complaint; (3) matters of which judicial notice may be taken; (4) documents in plaintiff's possession; and (5) documents of which plaintiff had knowledge and upon which plaintiff relied in bringing the action); Lakonia Management Ltd. v. Meriwether, 106 F.Supp.2d 540, 543 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (court may also properly consider any document attached to the complaint as an exhibit or incorporated in it by reference, as well as matters of public record of which it can take judicial notice).

Plaintiff is a former Principal Administrative Associate with the DOF. (SDHR Determination, Tracy Decl., Ex. at 1). In 2011, Plaintiff had a pattern of excessive lateness and was subsequently referred to the DOF Advocate's Office to discuss this issue. ( Id. at 2). When interviewed by the DOF Advocate's representative, Plaintiff stated that the lateness issues were the result of her co-workers coming into her bedroom at night and shaking her bed, which interrupted her sleep. ( Id. ). Based on this interview, the DOF Advocate's Office referred Plaintiff for a medical evaluation, pursuant to New York Civil Service Law § 72, to determine whether Plaintiff was medically fit to perform her DOF duties. ( Id. ).

On March 30, 2011, Plaintiff was examined by Doctor Azariah Eshkenazi ("Dr. Eshkenazi"), a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who found Plaintiff to be mentally unfit to perform her duties at DOF. ( Id. at 2; Compl., Ex. 3). Based on this assessment, the DOF began the process of placing Plaintiff on an involuntary leave of absence under Civil Service Law § 72. (SDHR Determination, Tracy Decl., Ex. A, at 2). On May 25, 2011, a pre-trial hearing was held at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings ("OATH") and the administrative law judge ("ALJ") ordered Plaintiff "to undergo a second medical evaluation to confirm whether or not she was fit to perform her duties." ( Id. ). On July 2011, Dr. Eshkenazi re-examined Plaintiff and again determined that she was unfit to perform her duties. ( Id. ). Dr. Eshkenazi found that Plaintiff suffered from delusions of persecution and visual hallucinations. (Compl., Ex. 3). Plaintiff voluntarily retired as of September 1, 2011. (SDHR Determination, Tracy Decl., Ex. A, at 2).

The Complaint alleges that Defendants violated the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") when she was placed on involuntary leave without the DOF seeking to provide her with reasonable accommodations. The Complaint further brings claims against the SDHR based on their handling of the SDHR Proceeding. Plaintiff alleges that the charges she brought in the SDHR Proceeding were dismissed without a discussion of the results of the ...

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