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Albin v. Lvmh Moet Louis Vuitton, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 8, 2014

LVMH MOET LOUIS VUITTON, INC.; THOMAS PINK, INC.; and SUZANNE HUMBERT and SONIA PROULX, individually and as aiders and abettors, Defendants.


J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Katherine Albin alleges that she failed to receive a promotion at work due to discrimination against her on the basis of a recent pregnancy. She sues her employer, Thomas Pink, Inc.; her employer's parent company, LVMH Moet Louis Vuitton, Inc. ("Louis Vuitton"); and two senior managers for Thomas Pink, Suzanne Humbert and Sonia Proulx. Albin brings claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York Executive Law § 292 et seq., and New York City Administrative Code § 8-107 et seq. Defendants move for dismissal of the claims. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is denied.

I. Background

A. Factual Background[1]

Albin began working in the Thomas Pink store at Columbus Circle in Manhattan in January 2009. She had her first child in August 2011, and she was out of work on maternity leave from August through November 2011. Shortly after Albin returned to work, her store manager, Simon Cox, announced that he would be resigning at the end of December. Albin emailed Defendant Sonia Proulx, the director of Thomas Pink's United States stores, and expressed interest in being promoted to manager. Proulx told Albin that she could meet with the human resources manager, Lauren Dalton, when Dalton returned to New York sometime in December.

Typically, when a store manager resigns, Defendants Suzanne Humbert (the United States President of Thomas Pink) and Proulx hire a replacement manager within a few weeks, so as to allow overlap between the incoming and outgoing managers. This did not occur in the present case. Dalton did not even speak with Albin about scheduling an interview until December 27, 2011, which was within days of Cox's departure. Since Dalton did not hire a replacement manager before Cox's leave, Albin began acting as interim store manager on December 28, 2011.

Dalton interviewed Albin in early January 2012. Dalton was noncommittal about the length of the interview process and whether Albin would be promoted. Proulx called Albin after the interview to discuss how it went, and based on Albin's description, Proulx said "I knew you would do good." (Dkt. No. 18 at ¶ 24.) Proulx told Albin that Humbert and other senior managers would want to meet with her before she was hired, but nobody followed up with Albin after her first interview.

On February 8, 2012, Humbert visited the Columbus Circle store and interviewed another candidate for the position. Humbert spoke with Albin briefly, but they did not discuss Albin's candidacy. Albin called Proulx on February 21 to ask about the status of her application. Proulx said that Humbert and another higher-level manager, who was in town from London, would be making a decision that week. Within two hours, Dalton emailed Albin to schedule an interview with Humbert for March 1-even though March 1 was after Proulx said Humbert would be making her decision. The manager from the London office did not meet with Albin while he was in New York.

Humbert interviewed Albin on March 1. Humbert appeared to be unprepared for the interview-she did not have a copy of Albin's resume, nor did it appear that she had read it. On March 6, Proulx informed Albin that the candidate who was interviewed on February 8 had been hired for the position. The next day, on March 7, an envelope arrived at the store containing a check for the new manager. Based on the payroll system, a check could not have been printed for the new manager unless the manager had been put into the system much earlier, during the week of February 19, 2012. Therefore, Albin's interview with Humbert was conducted after the position had already been filled.

The new manager is alleged to have had less relevant experience than Albin, had not worked in several years, had previously worked only at the Hamptons branch rather than a New York City store, and was of an age at which she was unlikely to become pregnant. Following these discoveries, Albin resigned on March 9, 2012.

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff initiated this action on June 24, 2013. She amended her complaint on October 11, 2013. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on October 24, 2013, which Plaintiff opposed on November 27, 2013.

II. Legal Standard

In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, Plaintiff must have alleged "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Consideration of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is limited to the factual allegations in the complaint and documents either attached to or incorporated by reference in the complaint. Marketxt Holdings ...

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