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Morillo v. Grand Hyatt New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 10, 2014

ALBA BELTRE MORILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAND HYATT NEW YORK, ET AL., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Alba Beltre Morillo, originally brought this action in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, against four defendants: the Grand Hyatt New York ("Grand Hyatt"), Grand Hyatt Assistant Manager Mark Mason, the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO (the "Union"), and Union representative Hazel Hazzard. The plaintiff alleges that Grand Hyatt committed gender discrimination and harassment in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107 et seq. The plaintiff also alleges that Mason, Hazzard, and the Union aided and abetted Grand Hyatt's gender discrimination and harassment. The Union and Hazzard (together, the "Union Defendants") removed the plaintiff's action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

The plaintiff now moves pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) to remand the action to state court on the ground that the plaintiff's claims are grounded solely in New York City law and that there is no basis for removal. The Union Defendants argue that remand is improper because the plaintiff's New York City law claims are completely preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, and Sections 8(b) and 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(b), 159(a). The Union Defendants also move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiff's claims are time-barred.

For the reasons explained below, the plaintiff's New York City law claims against the Union Defendants are completely preempted and the plaintiff's claims against the Union Defendants are time-barred. Accordingly, the plaintiff's motion to remand is denied, and the Union Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. However, because there is no longer a basis for federal jurisdiction when the Union Defendants are dismissed from the case, the remaining claims against Grand Hyatt and Mason are remanded to the New York State Supreme Court, New York County.

I.

The following facts are accepted as true for the purposes of the pending motions.

A.

The Grand Hyatt has employed Morillo in some capacity since 2003. (Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 14.) Most recently, Morillo has worked as a dishwasher, a role that she shares with only one other woman. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Morillo alleges that she has been subject to ongoing harassment from male co-workers, and that her repeated complaints to Grand Hyatt's management and to her union representatives have been ignored. (Compl. ¶¶ 17-18.)

B.

In January and February 2009, Morillo informed her supervisors that a male co-worker had inappropriately touched and threatened her. (Compl. ¶¶ 20-21.) Morillo's supervisors did not investigate the co-worker responsible for the harassment, and he remains employed by Grand Hyatt. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Following Morillo's complaints, her co-workers allegedly intensified their harassment. (Compl. ¶ 22.) In April 2009, Morillo again complained to the Grand Hyatt's human resources manager, who told Morillo that she should resign. (Compl. ¶ 23.)

In November and December 2010, Morillo's manager allegedly made a sexually suggestive comment to Morillo and began sending pictures of himself to her cell phone. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Morillo told her Union Delegate, Kirk McFarlane, about this contact, and he advised her not to complain about the incident because doing so would risk retaliation. (Compl. ¶ 24.)

On March 17, 2012, Morillo was working on the dishwasher machine when a co-worker approached her and placed his hand on her shoulder and breast. Morillo told the co-worker to stop. Later that day, the co-worker pushed past Morillo while she was moving a cart of glasses causing Morillo to fall and injure her knee. Morillo complained about these incidents to Grand Hyatt, and, as a result, the co-worker received a warning and was required to complete counseling. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

On March 28, 2012, after these incidents, Morillo met with her Union Representative, Hazel Hazzard. Morillo told Hazzard about the pictures that her manager began sending to her in December 2010 and about the March 2012 incident in which Morillo injured her knee. When Morillo followed up with Hazzard on August 2, 2012, Hazzard advised Morillo to speak with her worker's compensation attorney and to seek disability retirement. (Compl. ¶ 28.)

Morillo met with Hazzard and two Grand Hyatt human resources officers on August 13, 2012, to discuss the March 17 incident. Both Hazzard and a Grand Hyatt human resources officer told Morillo that her co-worker claimed that he had only touched her on the shoulder and that this did not constitute sexual harassment. (Compl. ¶ 29.) Following the meeting, Morillo was allegedly subjected to further harassment from her co-workers. (Compl. ¶¶ 29-31.) Morillo claims that, as a result of these incidents, she has suffered both physically and mentally, and is unable to perform her duties at Grand Hyatt. (Compl. ¶¶ 32-33.) According to ...


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