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Hull v. Nyack Hospital

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 11, 2014

BERNICE HULL, Plaintiff,
v.
NYACK HOSPITAL, Defendant.

OPINION

NELSON S. ROMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Bernice Hull ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 621-634. Defendant Nyack Hospital ("Defendant") moves to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

On November 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed this complaint against Defendant, alleging violations of Title VII, the ADEA, and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"). (Compl. at 1.) Plaintiff is a 64-year-old African-American woman who worked as a credentials coordinator for Nyack Hospital from November 1, 2010 to March 2, 2012. Defendant is a non-profit corporation located in Nyack, New York. (Def.'s Br. at 1.)

On February 17, 2011, Plaintiff received a review from her supervisor whereby she achieved expectations in most categories, except "responsiveness" due to her attendance or lateness. (Decl. of Dustin E. Stark, Ex. B.) In November 2011, Plaintiff filled out a survey administered by Defendant's Human Resources Department measuring Plaintiff's job satisfaction level. Id. Plaintiff noted that she was mostly satisfied with the different aspects of her position. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff marked that she had experienced a hostile work environment. Id. Subsequently, on November 11, 2011, Plaintiff received a review from her supervisor indicating that her overall performance needed improvement. Id. On November 21, 2011, Plaintiff was placed on a 90 day performance improvement plan. Id. On March 2, 2012, Plaintiff was terminated by Defendant due to Plaintiff's violations of hospital policy and her unsatisfactory job performance. (Decl. of Dustin E. Stark, Ex. C, NYSDHR Determination at 1.)

On February 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the NYSDHR. Id. On August 27, 2013, after investigating the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint, the NYSDHR issued a determination dismissing all claims, finding that there was "no probable cause" to believe that Defendant engaged or was engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of. (Decl. of Dustin E. Stark, Ex. C, NYSDHR Determination at 1.) Specifically, the NYSDHR held that evidence gathered during the course of the investigation was insufficient to support Plaintiff's allegations that she was terminated from her employment based on her race or age. Id.

Plaintiff filed this Complaint on November 7, 2013. Defendant's motion to dismiss was served on May 19, 2014. Plaintiff has not opposed Defendants' motion to dismiss to date. Defendant's motion to dismiss was filed without opposition on July 2, 2014. Therefore, the Court will determine the motion to dismiss based on Plaintiff's Complaint and Defendant's motion papers.

II. Motion to Dismiss Legal Standard

On a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), dismissal is proper unless the complaint "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When there are well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 679. "Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss [a court] must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, [it is] not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). It is not necessary for the complaint to assert "detailed factual allegations, " but must allege "more than labels and conclusions." Twombly, 550 U.S at 555. The facts in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Id.

A claim is "properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). "When jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists." Id. (citing Malik v. Meissner, 82 F.3d 560, 562 (2d Cir. 1996)). When "the case is at the pleading stage and no evidentiary hearings have been held... [a court] must accept as true all material facts alleged in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Conyers v. Rossides, 558 F.3d 137, 143 (2d Cir. 2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted; brackets and ellipses added). However, "in adjudicating a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, a district court may resolve disputed factual issues by reference to evidence outside the pleadings, including affidavits." State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland, 494 F.3d 71, 77, n.4 (2d Cir. 2007).

" Pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than those drafted by lawyers, even following Twombly and Iqbal. " Thomas v. Westchester, No. 12-CV-6718 (CS), 2013 WL 3357171 (S.D.N.Y. July 3, 2013). The court should read pro se complaints "to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, '" Kevilly v. New York, 410 F.App'x 371, 374 (2d Cir. 2010) (summary order) (quoting Brownell v. Krom, 446 F.3d 305, 310 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) ("even after Twombly, though, we remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally."). "However, even pro se plaintiffs asserting civil rights claims cannot withstand a motion to dismiss unless their pleadings contain factual allegations sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Jackson v. N.Y.S. Dep't of Labor, 709 F.Supp.2d 218, 224 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (internal quotation marks omitted). Dismissal is justified, therefore, where "the complaint lacks an allegation regarding an element necessary to obtain relief, " and therefore, the "duty to liberally construe a plaintiff's complaint [is not] the equivalent of a duty to re-write it." Geldzahler v. New York Medical College, 663 F.Supp.2d 379, 387 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (internal citations and alterations omitted).

"In deciding an unopposed motion to dismiss, a court is to assume the truth of a pleading's factual allegations and test only its legal sufficiency.... Thus, although a party is of course to be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to an opponent's motion, the sufficiency of a complaint is a matter of law that the court is capable of determining based on its own reading of the pleading and knowledge of the law.'" Haas v. Commerce Bank, 497 F.Supp.2d 563, 564 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (quoting McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 322 (2d Cir. 2000)).

III. Discussion

A. Plaintiff Failed to Timely File a Charge ...


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