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Knight v. State University of New York at Stony Brook

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 16, 2014

ANTHONY KNIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT STONY BROOK, Defendant.

Anthony P. Consiglio, Esq., Law Offices of Michael G. O'Neill, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Toni E. Logue, Esq., N.Y.S. Attorney General's Office, Mineola, NY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Knight ("Plaintiff") commenced this action against defendant State University of New York at Stony Brook ("Defendant") asserting claims of racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Currently pending before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

BACKGROUND[1]

The Court presumes general familiarity with the factual background of this case, which is discussed in the Court's November 12, 2013 Memorandum and Order (the "November Order, " Docket Entry 11).

Plaintiff alleges that he worked as an electrician at a construction project on Defendant's premises from April 2011, until he was "terminated" on October 24, 2011. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 17.) According to Plaintiff, Defendant employed him as a "special funds estimate" ("SFE") employee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.)

In October 2011, Plaintiff discovered the phrase "remember you are still a nigger" written in a portable construction toilet and believed that it was directed towards him. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff reported the writing to his foreman. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) After Plaintiff's foreman said the writing did not offend him, Plaintiff "escalated" his complaint to his shop steward and the Vice President of his Union. (Am Compl. ¶¶ 15-16.) "About a week later, on October 24, 2011, [P]laintiff was terminated." (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff commenced this action on January 28, 2013 and Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint on May 24, 2013. (See Docket Entry 4.) The Court, in its November Order, dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to sufficiently allege that he is an employee of Defendant, but granted leave to replead. (Nov. Order at 9-11.)

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint essentially reasserts the allegations in his original Complaint. However, new to the Amended Complaint are allegations regarding Plaintiff's pay stubs. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 9-10.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that his pay stubs reflect wages paid by Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York State Comptroller, who was acting as Defendant's agent. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff further alleges that such payment from DiNapoli was remuneration for work performed by Plaintiff at Defendant's premises. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.)

DISCUSSION

The Court will first address the applicable legal standard on a motion to dismiss before turning to Defendant's motion specifically.

I. Standard of Review

In deciding Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, the Court applies a "plausibility standard, " which is guided by "[t]wo working principles." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); accord Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71-72 (2d Cir. 2009). First, although the Court must accept all allegations as true, this "tenet" is "inapplicable to legal conclusions;" thus, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; accord Harris, 572 F.3d at 72. Second, only complaints that state a "plausible claim for relief" can survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. ...


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