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Pedroso v. Syracuse Cmty. Health Ctr.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

August 13, 2014

REGLA PEDROSO, Plaintiff,
v.
SYRACUSE CMTY. HEALTH CTR., Defendant.

REGLA PEDROSO, Mattydale, NY, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

LINDSEY H. HAZELTON, ESQ., HANCOCK ESTABROOK, LLP, Syracuse, NY, Counsel for Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently pending before the Court, in this pro se employment discrimination action filed by Regla Pedroso ("Plaintiff") against the Syracuse Community Health Center ("Defendant"), is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 49.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint asserts three claims against Defendant arising from its termination of her employment as a Phlebotomist/Clerk, from approximately May 17, 2010, to September 24, 2010, in Syracuse, NY: (1) a claim that Defendant violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII") by terminating her employment based on her race or color; (2) a claim that Defendant violated Title VII by terminating her employment based on her national origin; and (3) a claim that Defendant violated 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634(b) ("ADEA") by terminating her employment based on her age. ( See generally Dkt. No. 41 [Plf.'s Second Am. Compl.].) Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. ( Id. )

B. Undisputed Material Facts

Generally, the following facts were asserted and supported by Defendant in its Local Rule 7.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, and either expressly admitted or denied without an accurate supporting record citation by Plaintiff in her Local Rule 7.1 Response. ( Compare Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 1 [Def.'s Rule 7.1 Statement] with Dkt. No. 60 [Plf.'s Rule 7.1 Response].)

1. Syracuse Community Health Center ("SCHC") provides healthcare services and patient education to more than 40, 000 individuals, many of whom are part of the City of Syracuse's "at risk populations" including the poor, elderly, and Medicaid recipients. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 1 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 2]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 2, at 3 [Plf.'s Ex. 1 at 1].)

2. Plaintiff first commenced employment with SCHC in 2002 as a Dental Assistant in the Dental Department. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 1 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 3]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 5-6 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 9, 20]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 11 [Def.'s Ex. E]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 1 [Pedroso Decl. at ¶ 1].)

3. In 2009, Plaintiff voluntarily resigned from SCHC. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 1 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 3]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach 2, at 6-7 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 20-21]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 1 [Pedroso Decl. at ¶ 2].)

4. In or about April 2010, Plaintiff reapplied for employment with SCHC as a Phlebotomist/Clerk, and she was rehired effective May 17, 2010. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 1 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 3], Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 5, 20-24 [Def.'s Exs. A, G, H]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 9-10 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 24-25].)

5. SCHC Lab Manager Dawn Monette, who is white, interviewed Plaintiff and recommended her for employment. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 3 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 6]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 1 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 2]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 7 [Def.'s Ex. I]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 10 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 25].)

6. Pursuant to SCHC policy, the first six (6) months of Plaintiff's employment were deemed an "Introductory Period, " in order to assess Plaintiff's suitability for the position. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 2 [Williams Decl. at ¶ 3]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 9 [Def.'s Ex. K]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 23 [Def.'s Ex. H at 2]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 35 [Def.'s Ex. 2, at P-0050]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 23 [Plf.'s Ex. C at 1].)

7. There are several stages to the Phlebotomist/Clerk position: (1) receiving patients and drawing their blood; (2) issuing lab encounters and performing other clerical/data input; and (3) "processing, " which is the most complex part of the role because it involves preparing specimens for testing. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 2 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 3]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 8 [Def.'s Ex. J]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 34 [Def.'s Ex. 2 at P-0031]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 11 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 30]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 24 [Plf.'s Ex. C at 2].)

8. Plaintiff was trained by various individuals, including Ms. Monette, Senior Phlebotomist Brigida Cabral, Richard Evans and LaDashe Roberts. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 11-14, 30 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 30-33, 99]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 3 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 6]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 2 [Pedroso Decl. at ¶ 3].)

9. Plaintiff had difficulty mastering the initial skills in the drawing area, made errors and often would use the wrong tube, fail to label tubes, or label them incorrectly. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 2-3 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 4]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 15 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 34]; Dkt. No. 41, at 8 [Plf.'s Second Am. Compl. at ¶ 11]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 32 [Def.'s Ex. 2 at P-0028]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 6-7 [Def.'s Ex. B]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 3-4 [Pedroso Decl. at ¶¶ 6-7]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 32 [Plf.'s Ex. E at E].)

10. Employees who perform a processing role are an additional line of defense, and must be able to discover when specimens might have been labeled or collected incorrectly. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 2 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 3]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 8 [Def.'s Ex. J]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 23 [Def.'s Ex. H at D-00016].)

11. Plaintiff did not adequately master the initial skills to allow her to move into the processing department. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 2-3 [Monette Decl. at ¶ 4]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 16-17 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 39-40]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 24 [Plf.'s Ex. C at D-0058]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 32 [Plf.'s Ex. E at E]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 37 [Plf.'s Ex. G].)

12. A review of Plaintiff's performance in late July 2010 indicated that she was not performing at a satisfactory level and that she was showing no signs of improvement. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 9 [Def.'s Ex. K]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 7-9 [Def.'s Exs. B at P-0042, and C at P-0044-0045]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 3-4 [Monette Decl. at ¶¶ 5, 7]; Dkt. No. 60, Attach. 3, at 3 [Pedroso Decl. at ¶ 6].)

13. According to SCHC policy, Ms. Monette, as a direct supervisor, did not have the authority to terminate an employee-only the ability to recommend a termination; her recommendation that Plaintiff be terminated was reviewed and approved by several levels of management, including Clinical Administrator Angella Timothy, Medical Director Dr. Chima Chinuma, Human Resources Director Craig Williams, Senior Vice President and Corporate Health Officer Dr. Diane Green-El, Chief Administrative Officer Crystal Jordan, and President and CEO Dr. Ruben Cowart-each of whom is Black. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 3, at 4-5 [Monette Decl. at ¶¶ 7, 9]; Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 4, at 2-3 [Williams Decl. at ¶¶ 4, 6]; Dkt. No. 40, Attach. 4, at 8 [Def.'s Ex. C].)

14. Plaintiff is Black, is from Cuba, and was born in 1965; she turned 45 in 2010. (Dkt. No. 49, Attach. 2, at 4 [Plf.'s Depo. Tr. at 7]; Dkt. No. 41, at 6, 11 [Plf.'s Second Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 1, 7]; ...


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