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Yin v. North Shore LIJ Health System

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 19, 2014

HONG YIN, Plaintiff,

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For the Plaintiff: Jonathan Bell, Esq., LAW OFFICE OF JONATHAN BELL, Jericho, NY.

For the Defendant: Christopher G. Gegwich, Esq., Alexander Elliott Gallin, Esq., NIXON PEABODY LLP, Jericho, NY.

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Denis R. Hurley, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Hong Yin (" plaintiff" ) commenced this action against defendant North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System (" defendant" ) asserting claims of " discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (" ADAAA" )." (Complaint at I.) Initially, defendant moved to dismiss these claims, however, plaintiff " agree[d] to withdraw" the claims in her original Complaint, conceding that " upon reviewing Defendant's motion to dismiss, [she] realized that she might benefit from addressing alleged deficiencies pointed out in Defendant's motion and that the initial Complaint could benefit from significant revision." (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss and in Supp. of Mot. to Amend (" Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n" ) at 1, 8.) Plaintiff, although she does not oppose the dismissal of her original complaint, seeks leave to file an amended complaint. Towards that end, she submits a proposed First Amended Complaint (" FAC" ), claiming

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that it " cures any alleged deficiencies discussed in Defendant's motion to dismiss." ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff's FAC does not assert any claims pursuant to Title VII, and it contains " additional material facts" and additional claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 12102 et seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law (" NYSHRL" ), New York Executive Law § 290 et seq. ( Id.) Specifically, plaintiff claims that: (1) she was discriminated against because she was disabled and because defendant perceived her to be disabled; (2) defendant failed to reasonably accommodate her disability; (3) defendant retaliated against her; and (4) defendant subjected her to a hostile work environment.

Given plaintiff's withdrawal of her original complaint, defendant's motion to dismiss her original complaint claims is moot. The remaining question before the Court is whether plaintiff should be given leave to file her FAC. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint is denied.


Plaintiff began employment as a physician in defendant's obstetrics and gynecology residency program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center[1] (" LIJMC" ) on July 1, 2010. (FAC ¶ 9.) During plaintiff's employment, Adiel Fleischer, M.D. (" Dr. Fleischer" ) was the Chairman of the OB/GYN Department at LIJMC and Leah A. Kaufman, M.D. (" Dr. Kaufman" ) was the Director of the OB/GYN Residency Program. ( Id.).

At the age of fifteen, plaintiff was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, which she managed through behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Additionally, during her time in defendant's residency program, plaintiff's psychiatrist diagnosed her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (" PTSD" ). ( Id. ¶ 13.) Throughout her residency, plaintiff regularly saw her psychiatrist. ( Id. ¶ 14.)

From July 1, 2010 to August 28, 2010, plaintiff worked nights in Obstetric Service. ( Id. ¶ 16.) During this time, plaintiff received praise from various doctors for her performance. ( Id.) According to plaintiff, " [t]here were a few incidents during this period when [she] briefly cried," and " [a]fter one of [those] instances a nurse practitioner insisted that Plaintiff go home." [2] ( Id.) From August 30, 2010 to September 24, 2010, plaintiff worked in Emergency Department Service. ( Id. ¶ 17.) During this time, the attending physicians were satisfied with plaintiff's performance and praised her. ( Id.) From September 26, 2010 through October 23, 2010, plaintiff worked in Gynecology Service. ( Id. ¶ 18.) There, plaintiff's performance continued to be satisfactory, although she received some criticism for her " tone." ( Id.) From October 24, 2010 to December 25, 2010, plaintiff worked days in Obstetric Service. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff's performance during this period remained satisfactory, and she received additional positive feedback. ( Id.) During this rotation, however, Dr. Kaufman " acknowledged that Plaintiff was unhappy and asked if Plaintiff was receiving appropriate emotional support," to which plaintiff responded that she was. ( Id.) From December 26, 2010 to January 21, 2011, plaintiff

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served in Medical ICU, and her performance continued to be satisfactory. ( Id. ¶ 20.)

In January of 2011, plaintiff's psychiatrist prescribed her Klonopin to treat her anxiety. ( Id. ¶ 22.) Around this time, plaintiff met with Dr. Kaufman for her semi-annual review, during which Kaufman inquired about her emotional status and stated that she felt plaintiff's ratings were influenced by people's perceptions of plaintiff as being depressed. ( Id. ¶ 23). Between January 24, 2011 and March 21, 2011, Kaufman inquired about plaintiff's emotional status on multiple occasions. ( Id. ¶ 24.) On January 31, 2011, plaintiff disclosed to Kaufman that she " suffered from mental illness and was under the care of a psychiatrist for appropriate management." ( Id.) Plaintiff asserts that after she disclosed her depression to Kaufman, she was scrutinized at a higher level than her classmates and received more negative feedback than she had prior to disclosing her disability. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 25, 27.) Plaintiff also asserts that other residents were treated with more leniency, specifically a resident who was only given a " light warning" for her repeated tardiness while plaintiff was " often berated for her perceived or alleged deficiencies." ( Id. ¶ 28.)

From January 24, 2010 to February 18, 2011, plaintiff worked in the Antenatal Testing Unit in the mornings, in the Medicine Clinic in the afternoons, and in the Obstetric Service on the weekends. ( Id. ¶ 29.) During this time, plaintiff maintains that her work was satisfactory, but she mentions " two incidents [that] occurred in February for which [she] received negative feedback." ( Id.) Although plaintiff does not provide any circumstances surrounding these instances, she claims that the " two incidents were discriminatorily held against [her] and given undue weight, despite the fact that [she] had improved her performance." ( Id.)

From February 21, 2011 to March 21, 2011, plaintiff worked in Gynecology Service. During this time, plaintiff asserts that she was " subjected to incessant and unjustifiable criticism by Dr. Kaufman." ( Id. ¶ 30.) Examples of this treatment included Dr. Kaufman characterizing an educational question plaintiff asked Dr. Katz, another of plaintiff's supervisors, as inappropriate despite Dr. Katz's opinion to the contrary, Dr. Kaufman's criticism of plaintiff's performance on a surgical case, Dr. Kaufman calling plaintiff into her office to " chastise and harass her" and tell plaintiff her " performance ha[d] deteriorated to a level that [was] unacceptable," and Dr. Kaufman's " demand[] that Plaintiff see her psychiatrist more regularly." ( Id.) During this time, Dr. Kaufman assigned plaintiff a new mentor, Dr. Leong, whom plaintiff first met with on February 25, 2011. ( Id.) Dr. Leong told plaintiff that " her contract would not be renewed" and that " this [was her] last chance." ( Id.) Dr. Leong also told plaintiff that " she [could] not expect 'coddling' like [she] had received in the Midwest" and that " she had to face the culture here in New York." Dr. Leong also told plaintiff that she was " too emotional," that " some people are just not strong enough for this profession," that she " needed to have a 'type A personality' like her or Dr. Kaufman in order to survive," and told plaintiff " to get it through her head that this was not a luxurious setting and that even eating was a luxury." ( Id.)

On March 3, 2011, plaintiff contacted Dr. Kaufman to inquire about her progress, and Dr. Kaufman responded that plaintiff's performance was " absolutely inappropriate," however " refused to provide any current examples" of her poor performance. ( Id.) Around this time, plaintiff requested

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written feedback from other attending physicians, but Dr. Kaufman disapproved of this behavior and told another employee to tell plaintiff to stop requesting these evaluations. ( Id.) Additionally, Dr. Kaufman " expressed concern about Plaintiff attending her psychiatric appointments," and plaintiff responded by having her psychiatrist email Dr. Kaufman to confirm that plaintiff " should be able to function at work and that [she] was meeting with her psychiatrist regularly." ( Id.)

On March 16, 2011, after all other residents had been offered employment contract renewals, plaintiff approached Dr. Kaufman to inquire about her contract status. ( Id.) Dr. Kaufman refused to speak to plaintiff at length and stated that plaintiff " would most likely get the contract for renewal the following week." ( Id.) Following this meeting, Dr. Leong encouraged plaintiff to meet with her. ( Id.) During their meeting, Dr. Leong stated that plaintiff " was too emotional," could not expect any " coddling," and had acquired a reputation as " the resident that cries." Dr. Leong mentioned that people had a tendency to blame plaintiff when something went wrong, " even when it was not her fault," comparing plaintiff to a criminal who gets out of jail and has to persuade others " that he turned his life around."

On March 21, 2011, Dr. Kaufman gave plaintiff a letter stating that her performance was unacceptable and indicating that she would be placed in a remediation program. ( Id. ¶ 32.) Dr. Kaufman was " unreceptive" to plaintiff's attempt to discuss the letter. ( Id.) During her meeting with Dr. Kaufman plaintiff " felt frozen, felt intense fear, and tried not to fall apart" and became " extremely sad" and " cried uncontrollably" after the meeting. ( Id.) Dr. Katz drove the plaintiff home, and plaintiff " commenced medical leave that same day." [3] ( Id. ¶ ¶ 32-33.)

During the week of March 27, 2011, when Dr. Kaufman was on vacation, plaintiff requested evaluations from multiple attending physicians, and these evaluations " ranged from satisfactory to excellent." ( Id. ¶ 34.) Additionally, plaintiff met with Dr. Katz at the end of March, and Dr. Katz " opined that the claims in Kaufman's March 21, 2011 letter were misrepresentative." ( Id. ¶ 35.) When Dr. Kaufman returned from vacation approximately two weeks later, doctors were hesitant to provide plaintiff with evaluations." ( Id. ¶ 37.)

On or around April 1, 2011, plaintiff met with Dr. Fleischer to request an investigation to " clarify her academic status and performance evaluation," and she asked that " senior residents be interviewed about her performance, as they spent the most time with Plaintiff." ( Id. ¶ 36.) At this meeting, plaintiff complained of the " inappropriate way that she was being treated, including the way she was being treated by Dr. Kaufman, and the discrepancy between Kaufman's March 21, 2011 letter and the evaluations that Plaintiff had obtained." ( Id.)

On April 8, 2011, plaintiff spoke with Dr. Fleischer to inquire about the status of the investigation that she had requested. ( Id. ¶ 39.) Although Dr. Fleischer " acknowledged the discrepancy" between plaintiff's evaluations and Dr. Kaufman's letter, Dr. Fleischer suggested that plaintiff remain in remediation and informed her that no investigation had been conducted. ( Id.) At this meeting, plaintiff " stated that she could not trust the facility or remain in the program and felt that she had no choice but to resign." ( Id. ¶ 40.) Following plaintiff's meeting with Dr. Fleischer, Dr. Kaufman asked plaintiff to sign a formal

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resignation letter, " verbally attacked [her], suggesting that Plaintiff was inconsiderate." ( Id. ¶ 41.) Following this conversation, plaintiff was contacted by an employee that " told Plaintiff that Kaufman had instructed her to contact Plaintiff about signing a resignation letter." ( Id. ¶ 42.)

On May 2, 2011, plaintiff states that she " explicitly complained about and/or opposed the discriminatory practices of Defendant," yet does not elaborate regarding the method of her stated opposition or give any details about what she stated in her complaint. ( Id. ¶ 45.) After leaving the defendant's residency program,[4] in July 2012, plaintiff began a new residency program and has been doing " extremely well." ( Id. ΒΆ 49.) As such, ...

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