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Cruz v. New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 4, 2014

Ricardo Cruz, Plaintiff,
v.
New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ALISON J. NATHAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ricardo Cruz brings this Title VII sex discrimination action against Defendant New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS"), his former employer. Defendant moves to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Court DENIES the motion to dismiss in part, and GRANTS the motion to dismiss in part.

I. Background

A. Facts

For purposes of this motion, the Court assumes the truth of the following allegations of the Second Amended Complaint ("2AC" or "Complaint") and grants all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. See Kassner v. 2nd Ave. Delicatessen, Inc., 496 F.3d 229, 237 (2d Cir. 2007).

Until August 8, 2012, Plaintiff was employed by DOCCS and supervised there by Joni Johnson. 2AC ¶¶ 3, 8. Plaintiff alleges that on an almost daily basis from May 2008 and July 2011, Johnson directed sexually tinged comments at him while making seductive facial expressions. ¶ 9. The pervasive comments she allegedly made to him include the following: "[y]ou are the only man here, we didn't have a man here in a long time, " "you are a good man, " "your wife is lucky, " "[you have] straight white teeth, " and "[your] back ha[s] a V-shape." ¶¶ 8-11. However, he did not accept her sexual advances, remaining austere and non-responsive. ¶ 13.

Plaintiff alleges that Johnson became angry and agitated at his non-responsiveness, denying his vacation time and leave requests, ¶ 13, and sabotaging his career advancement in the Department by not informing him of a training opportunity for which he had been approved, preventing him from advancing to an instructor position. ¶¶ 17-18. Plaintiff formally complained about the comments in June and July 2011, but they continued until at least February 2012. ¶¶ 17, 25. Johnson's actions forced him to seek the intervention of other supervisors to obtain time off and vacation when he preferred. ¶¶ 13-16. Johnson also informed Plaintiff's coworkers that he had made a complaint against her, told them that they should avoid Plaintiff, and told them not to speak to Plaintiff when unnecessary. ¶ 25.

As a result, Plaintiff alleges he was isolated, deprived of the collegiality of his coworkers, and became depressed and less productive, eventually taking a sudden leave of absence. ¶ 25. By June 25, 2012, Plaintiff had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder, anxiety, and depression, and entered professional mental health treatment which he continues to the present. ¶ 26. Finally, because of Johnson's actions, Plaintiff left DOCCS in August 2012 for a position with the New York State Liquor Authority, despite the fact that his new job had lower pay and fewer opportunities. ¶¶ 1, 3, 26-27.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued a "right to sue" letter on February 2, 2013. ¶ 2. Plaintiff then timely filed suit on February 27, 2013, and filed an amended complaint on March 4, 2013. Dkt. Nos. 1-2. Defendant DOCCS filed a motion to dismiss on October 21, 2013. Dkt. No. 12. On November 5, 2013, the Court dismissed all claims against former defendant Joni Johnson for failure to effect service. Dkt. No. 17. Plaintiff then filed the 2AC on November 16, 2013. Dkt. No. 18. Because that filing was erroneously submitted through the electronic case filing system, Plaintiff later re-filed it. Dkt. No. 27. The Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the 2AC on December 16, 2013. Dkt. No. 21. The motion is now fully briefed.

II. Discussion

Plaintiff Cruz alleges that Defendant DOCCS violated Title VII by allowing his supervisor to sexually harass him and retaliate against him for complaining about the harassment. 2AC ¶ 32. Defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the complaint fails to state a claim for sex discrimination or retaliation. Def.'s Mem. 6-17. Plaintiff opposes, claiming his Second Amended Complaint is adequately pled, requesting in the alternative that the Court grant him leave to make further amendments. Pl.'s Mem. 9-14.

A. Motion To Dismiss Legal Standards

When deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Kassner v. 2nd Ave. Delicatessen, Inc., 496 F.3d 229, 237 (2d Cir. 2007). Pleadings must provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), and "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). To sustain a claim against a motion to dismiss, a pleading must provide "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft V. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, ...


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