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Smith v. Town of Hempstead

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 15, 2014

ELISSA SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD and MARK BONILLA, Defendants

For Elissa Smith, Plaintiff: James M. Murphy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Montfort, Healy, McGuire & Salley, Garden City, NY.

For Town of Hempstead, Defendant, Cross Defendant: Joseph E. Macy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Berkman, Henoch, Peterson & Peddy, P.C., Garden City, NY; Donna A. Napolitano, Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel, P.C., Garden City, NY.

OPINION

Page 203

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LEONARD D. WEXLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Elissa Smith (" Smith" ) brings this action against defendants Town of Hempstead (" Town" ) and former Town Clerk Mark Bonilla (" Bonilla" ), asserting claims for discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as supplemental state law claims under New York State Human Rights Law (" NYSHRL" ), N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 et seq., and for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery. The Town moves to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (" FRCP" ) 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

I. BACKGROUND

For purposes of this decision, the allegations of the complaint can be summarized as follows. Smith commenced her employment with the Town on July 18, 2011 as a Community Research Assistant in the Town's Clerk's office. From that date until August 16, 2012, Smith worked under Bonilla's supervision. Within two to three weeks after Smith began employment, Bonilla asked her to accompany him on road trips to events that he was attending. Smith claims that Bonilla made comments and advances of a sexual nature toward her and created an intimidating, hostile, and offensive working environment. Smith alleges, inter alia, that Bonilla inappropriately touched her while they were alone in his car and at various events, and that he made various comments about her looks. Smith claims that when she rebuffed Bonilla's unwelcome and offensive advances, she was shunned and ignored in the office, depriving her of employment opportunities and ultimately leading her to transfer out of the Clerk's office. In that respect, on August 16, 2012, Smith interviewed for a position in the Town's Parks Department. That same day, Smith confirmed to a Town human resources employee and a Town attorney that she had been sexually harassed. Smith was immediately transferred from the Clerk's office to the Parks Department. Smith claims that although the Town has adopted a sexual harassment policy, it failed to disseminate the policy to her or other employee's of the Clerk's office and that she never received sexual harassment training. She further alleges that the Town failed to

Page 204

properly train and supervise Bonilla regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.

Smith filed a claim of discrimination with the State Division of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Upon receiving a notice of right to sue, Smith brought this action.

The Town moves to dismiss on the grounds (1) that Smith was a member of an elected official's personal staff and, as such, is exempt from coverage under Title VII; (2) that Smith fails to state a claim under § 1983; and (3) that, upon dismissal of all federal claims, the Court should dismiss the supplemental state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard


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