United States District Court, W.D. New York
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Jennifer Hoose ("Hoose") and Katrese Lockett ("Lockett"), bring this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), claiming that they were discriminated against on the basis of their gender when they were terminated from their employment with the defendant County of Monroe ("the County"). Specifically, the plaintiffs, both of whom are female, claim that they were fired from their jobs as Monroe County Child Protective Services case workers for engaging in activity that was allowed for similarly situated male employees. In support of this claim, plaintiffs allege that they were fired for improperly accessing and disseminating confidential information, and that male co-employees were not disciplined or fired for engaging in the same activity.
Defendant Monroe County now moves for summary judgment claiming that the plaintiffs have failed to state a cause of action for discrimination under Title VII. Specifically, the defendant contends that plaintiffs have failed to establish that gender was a motivating factor in the decision to fire them, or that similarly situated male employees were treated more favorably than they were. Plaintiffs oppose the defendant's motion.
For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion for summary judgment, and dismiss plaintiffs complaint in its entirety.
The following facts were set forth in my June 6, 2012 Decision and Order granting defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs Katrese Lockett and Jennifer Hoose began their employment with the County of Monroe in 2003 and 2004 respectively. According to the defendant, Hoose and Lockett were employed as Child Protective Services caseworkers. According to the Complaint, both Hoose and Lockett were accused of improperly accessing confidential information contained in the County's computers. According to the County, the plaintiffs not only accessed confidential information that they were not authorized to view, they disclosed the contents of that information to third-parties.
Hoose admits that she improperly used the defendant's computer system to look up private, confidential information for persons who were not her clients, and improperly disseminated private information to her child's father. See Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶¶ 8-9.4. Similarly, Lockett admits that she improperly used the defendant's computer system to obtain private, confidential information in violation of defendant's policies. Id. at ¶¶ 23-23.6.
Although the plaintiffs admit that they engaged in improper conduct which warranted termination from employment, they claim that they were discriminated against on the basis of their gender because male employees who accessed confidential information were allegedly not fired. The defendant contends that of the three male employees who improperly accessed confidential information, two resigned in lieu of termination from employment, and one received a letter of reprimand. Defendant further contends that of the four women (including the plaintiffs) who were found to have accessed private information without authorization, two were suspended, and two were fired. Defendant contends that all employees who improperly accessed information and disseminated it to third parties were either fired, or resigned before they were fired, regardless of whether or not they were male or female. Defendants further assert that those employees who improperly accessed information but did not disseminate the information to third parties received less severe punishment, regardless of gender.
I. The Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be granted if the moving party demonstrates "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all genuinely disputed facts must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Tolan v. Cotton, ___, U.S. ___ , 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1863 (2014). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgment is appropriate. Scott v. Harris , 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)(citing Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586-587 (1986)).
II. Plaintiffs have Failed to State a Claim of Gender Discrimination
Plaintiffs allege that they were discriminated against on the basis of their gender because they were fired for accessing and disseminating confidential information whereas male employees ...