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Lynch v. National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 19, 2014

MARY M. LYNCH, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL FUEL GAS DISTRIBUTION CORPORATION, Defendant

Page 359

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 360

Mary M. Lynch, Plaintiff, Pro se, Geneseo, NY.

For National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, Defendant: Melinda G. Disare, Michael E. Hickey, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP (Bflo), Buffalo, NY.

Page 361

DECISION AND ORDER

DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Mary Lynch (" plaintiff" ) brings this action alleging gender-based discrimination and retaliation against her former employer, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation (" National Fuel" ), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq. (" NYHRL" ). National Fuel now moves for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims (Dkt. #15). For the reasons that follow, National Fuel's motion is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.

FACTS

Plaintiff began her employment with National Fuel on August 11, 1980, ultimately achieving the position of Senior Serviceman. Her responsibilities included visiting customers' homes to investigate suspected gas leaks, as well as servicing gas-fired appliances, gas meters and gas pipelines. Foreman Ian Vranich (" Vranich" ) was plaintiff's direct supervisor from July 13, 2009 through her retirement on October 1, 2012. Vranich reported to Robert Plewa (" Plewa" ), who was responsible for overseeing the operations of National Fuel's Servicenter in Rush, New York, where plaintiff was stationed.

In or about October 2009, after Plewa became aware of apparent discrepancies between plaintiff's time sheets and the amount of time expended by others performing the same tasks, Plewa directed Vranich and Senior Foreman Christopher Mazerbo (" Mazerbo" ) to investigate whether plaintiff's time sheets reflected inflated productivity numbers.

On November 2, 2009, after receiving at least two requests for status updates from Plewa that she felt were unnecessary or impossible to give, plaintiff made a formal complaint to National Fuel's Human Resources department that Plewa was " bullying" her and subjecting her to unreasonable expectations. National Fuel contends that the complaint was investigated, but that there was no evidence that plaintiff

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was being treated differently from any other employee, or that Plewa's expectations were unreasonable.

On November 5, 2009 after the time sheet investigation was completed, Plewa met with plaintiff and her union steward to review plaintiff's time sheets, which had been found to include a number of discrepancies, double entries, and entries for work that had not been performed. Possible discipline was also discussed.

On December 8, 2009, a National Fuel Superintendent and Labor Relations Manager met with plaintiff and her union representative about the investigation findings, and placed plaintiff on a disciplinary three-day suspension for falsification of company records, from December 9-11, 2009. Following the suspension, plaintiff did not return to work, but took an immediate medical leave of absence through January 11, 2010.

On February 26, 2010, plaintiff responded to an emergency gas leak at a residence, and failed to identify the gas leak, allegedly because she failed to conduct a proper investigation in conformity with National Fuel's practices and procedures. Another Serviceman sent to the home later the same day found the leak and made the necessary repair. Vranich and Plewa met with plaintiff and her union steward on March 2, 2010 to discuss plaintiff's investigation of the gas leak. Plaintiff called in sick to work the next day, and on March 4, 2010, sent an e-mail to several National Fuel executives and employees stating that she believed that she ...


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