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Chiaramonte v. The Animal Medical Center

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 22, 2014

DEIRDRE CHIARAMONTE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE ANIMAL MEDICAL CENTER, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge.

Plaintiff Deirdre Chiaramonte here sues her former employer, the Animal Medical Center ("AMC"), a not-for-profit veterinary teaching hospital, as well as Kathryn Coyne, the Chief Executive Officer of AMC since March 2010. Plaintiff alleges that AMC violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (the "EPA"), 77 Stat. 56, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), and its state-law analogue, Section 194 of the New York Labor Law (the "NYLL"), by paying male employees higher wages than she earned for doing substantially equal work. She also alleges, though not implicated here, that Coyne tortiously interfered with Plaintiff's business relations and defamed her. Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under the EPA and the NYLL. For the reasons set forth in the remainder of this Opinion, Defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND[1]

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who graduated from veterinary school in 1997. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8). After veterinary school, Plaintiff completed an internship and a residency at AMC, and has served at AMC ever since as a veterinarian. ( Id. at ¶ 9).

Beginning in 2002, Plaintiff began administering a program at AMC dedicated to serving the pets of donors and other important individuals; this program was then formalized in 2004 under the name the President's Council. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10). Plaintiff's President's Council responsibilities were an additional set of job duties to her work as a veterinary internist. ( Id. ). In 2005, Plaintiff also helped establish a Rehabilitation and Fitness Service at AMC that, after its establishment, she was responsible for directing. ( Id. at ¶ 11).

After various personnel disputes that are not at issue here, Plaintiff was fired on July 24, 2012. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23).

B. The Instant Litigation

Plaintiff filed the original complaint in this action on July 23, 2013. (Dkt. #1). Defendants wrote the Court asking leave to move to dismiss the complaint and the Court held a conference to discuss that motion on November 1, 2013. At that conference, Defendants withdrew their request to move to dismiss Plaintiff's tortious interference and defamation claims, but pursued their request as to Plaintiff's EPA and NYLL claims. (11/1/13 Tr. 5:11-6:4). Plaintiff requested permission to amend the complaint so as to supplement her claims on that score, and the Court granted leave to do so, directing Defendants to advise the Court shortly thereafter as to whether they would persist in their motion to dismiss. ( Id. at 11:8-12:14).

Plaintiff amended her complaint as ordered on November 15, 2013 (Dkt. #15), and Defendants wrote the Court on November 26, 2013, advising that they would move to dismiss the Amended Complaint (Dkt. #16). The Court set a briefing schedule for that motion on December 16, 2013. (Dkt. #18). Defendants moved in accordance with that schedule on January 22, 2014 (Dkt. #19); Plaintiff opposed on February 28, 2014 (Dkt. #28); and the motion was fully submitted with the filing of Defendants' reply brief on March 17, 2014 (Dkt. #29).

DISCUSSION

A. Applicable Law

1. Motions Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court should "draw all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff['s] favor, assume all well-pleaded factual allegations to be true, and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Faber v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 648 F.3d 98, 104 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ("To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." (internal quotation marks omitted)). A plaintiff is entitled to relief if he alleges "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also In re Elevator Antitrust Litig., 502 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2007) ("While Twombly does not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, it does require enough facts to nudge plaintiff's claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)). A court is not, however, bound to accept "conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions." Rolon v. Henneman, 517 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d ...


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