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Semmler v. County of Monroe

United States District Court, W.D. New York

August 6, 2014

KRISTIN L. SEMMLER, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MONROE, Defendant

Kristin L. Semmler, Plaintiff, Pro se, Brockport, NY.

For County of Monroe, Defendant: Howard A. Stark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Monroe County Department of Law, Rochester, NY.

Page 380

DECISION AND ORDER

ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Kristin L. Semmler (" Plaintiff" ) is a former Monroe County employee in its Department of Human Resources. She filed the instant action on April 15, 2011, alleging unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 2000 et seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law (the " NYSHRL" ), N.Y. Exec. L. § § 290 et seq. (Dkt. 1). In particular, Plaintiff alleges that during the course of her employment with Defendant the County of Monroe (" Defendant" ), she was subjected to " same sex harassment" by a co-worker and that in retaliation for her complaints about this harassment, she was treated poorly, kept on probationary employment status, and ultimately terminated.

Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff did not have a good faith, reasonable belief that she was opposing unlawful discrimination; (2) there was no causal connection between Plaintiff's complaints and the allegedly retaliatory actions; and (3) Plaintiff failed to comply with New York County Law § 52(1) and New York General Municipal Law § § 50-e and 50-i with respect to her NYSHRL claim. (Dkt. 17). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.

Page 381

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was provisionally appointed as a Personnel Assistant in the Monroe County Department of Human Resources on September 7, 2007. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ 1; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 1). Because she was provisionally appointed, Plaintiff was required to take the next civil service examination for her position and to place among the top three interested candidates to be eligible for permanent appointment. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ 2; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 2). Effective December 15, 2007, Plaintiff was provisionally promoted to the position of assistant manager, though her official title remained Personnel Assistant. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ ¶ 3-4; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 3-4). The promotion did not affect Plaintiff's provisional status. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ 6; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 6).

Effective June 8, 2009, Plaintiff was permanently appointed as a Personnel Assistant in the Monroe County Department of Human Resources, subject to a 52-week probationary period. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ 7; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 7). Plaintiff was required to pass this probationary period in order to become a permanent employee, and she could be terminated for unsatisfactory performance at any time during the probationary period. (Dkt 17-3 at ¶ 8; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 8).

Plaintiff's supervisor during the entire course of her employment with Defendant was Ann Connell, the Manager of the Civil Service Exam Unit, (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ ¶ 9-10; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 9-10). Ms. Connell's immediate supervisor was Brayton Connard, the Director of Human Resources. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ ¶ 11-12; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 11-12).

Plaintiff occasionally complained to Ms. Connell about Patty English, a co-worker and Plaintiffs maternal aunt. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ ¶ 13-14; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 13-14). Plaintiff testified at her deposition that Ms. English helped her obtain her position with Defendant. (Dkt. 21-4, Ex A., at 40:15-17). Ms. Connell did not supervise Ms. English, and Ms. English never supervised Plaintiff. (Dkt. 17-3 at ¶ ¶ 15-16; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 15-16).

Plaintiff claims that in the summer of 2008, she found a copy of Ms. English's brother-in-law's resume mixed in her paperwork. (Dkt. 21-4, Ex A., at 38:16-21, 40:5-6). Plaintiff further claims that she approached Ms. English with the resume and Ms. English " snatched" it out of her hands and told her it was none of her business and that she should not say anything to anyone about it. ( Id. at 38:19-39:5). Ms. English allegedly followed up with an email to Plaintiff stating that it was " not [Plaintiff's] place" to tell anyone about the ré sumé . ( Id. at 39:8-11). Plaintiff testified that there was nothing else said " in person or by email or letter" between her and Ms. English regarding the resume incident. ( Id. at 39:20-23).

Plaintiff further testified that after the resume incident, " things . . . were not the same" between her and Ms. English. ( Id. at 40:25-41:4). Ms. English allegedly became very hostile towards Plaintiff and would allegedly belittle her in front of eo-workers. ( Id. at 41:5-7). On one occasion, Ms. English allegedly told Plaintiff she was unprofessional and asked her who she thought she was, while on another occasion Ms. English allegedly called Plaintiff a bitch. ( Id. at 41:17-42:6). Plaintiff claims that on other occasions, Ms. English was " very hostile and kind of scolding." ( Id. at 42:6-7). Plaintiff explained at her deposition that she believed Ms. English's " verbal beratement and hostile gestures" constituted " same sex harassment" because they were " both females" and " it wasn't that a male co-worker was ...


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