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Delisi v. National Assn. of Professional Women, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 29, 2014

LISA DELISI, CRYSTAL ALEXANDER, MONIQUE MCCABE and ANIKA COSBERT, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of all other similarly-situated persons, Plaintiffs,
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN, INC.; MATTHEW PROMAN, in his individual and professional capacities; CHRIS WESSER, in his individual and professional capacities; and KRISSY L. DEMONTE, in her individual and professional capacities, Defendants

For Plaintiffs: Douglas H. Wigdor, Esq., Tanvir H. Rahman, Esq., THOMPSON WIGDOR LLP, New York, NY.

For Plaintiffs: Michael J. Borrelli, Esq., Alexander T. Coleman, Esq., THE LAW OFFICE OF BORRELLI & ASSOCIATES, P.L.L.C., Great Neck, NY.

For Defendants: Mercedes Colwin, Esq., Christopher A. Seacord, Esq., GORDON & REES, LLP, New York, NY.



Plaintiffs Lisa DeLisi (" DeLisi" or " Plaintiff" ), Crystal Alexander (" Alexander" ),

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Monique McCabe (" McCabe" ) and Anika Cosbert (" Cosbert" ) (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ) bring this employment discrimination action claiming violations of their civil rights pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1962, 42 U.S.C. § § 2000e et seq. (" Title VII" ) and the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § § 290, et seq., (" NYSHRL" ). The claims are brought against defendants The National Association of Professional Women, Inc. (" NAPW" ), Matthew Proman (" Proman" ), Chris Wesser (" Wesser" or " Defendant" ), and Krissy L. DeMonte (" DeMonte" ) (collectively, " Defendants" ). Plaintiffs also claim Defendants engaged in unlawful wage practices in violation of New York Law Labor, section 193 (" NYLL" ).[1] Defendant Wesser moves to dismiss Plaintiff DeLisi's claims, the only claims asserted against him, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (" Fed.R.Civ.P." ), Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is denied.


I. Factual Background

Since this motion only seeks dismissal of DeLisi's claim against Wesser, only DeLisi's allegations will be addressed here. According to those allegations, which are accepted as true for the purposed of this motion, DeLisi was first employed by NAPW in April 2008 as a salesperson in " Membership Sales" department. Amended Complaint (" Cmplt." ), ¶ 31. She was a strong performer and over time, was promoted to the " Press Release Sales" department. Cmplt., ¶ 32. From 2010 until she was constructively discharged in February 2013, DeLisi reported to Defendant DeMonte. According to Plaintiff, DeMonte frequently subjected her to sexual harassment by slapping, pitching or groping DeLisi's buttocks, and calling her sexually offensive names, like " bitch" and " fucking bitch." Cmplt., ¶ 33-35. Starting in the summer of 2011 and thereafter, DeLisi regularly complained to the Director of Human Resources Julie Whicher (" Whicher" ) about DeMonte's behavior, but no action was taken. Cmplt., ¶ 36-38. In June 2012, DeLisi complained to Wesser (the General Counsel of NAPW) and Proman (the founder and owner of NAPW), (Cmplt., ¶ 20-21) that DeMonte was being sexually inappropriate, which complaints were not taken seriously by Proman. Cmplt., ¶ 39-40. Immediately thereafter, DeLisi told Wesser and Whicher that Proman did not take her complaints seriously, and she was advised by Whicher to " accept" the harassment because DeMonte was not " going anywhere." Cmplt., ¶ 41-42.

Days later in July 2012, DeMonte slapped DeLisi even more forcefully than usual, and DeLisi responded strongly that the aggressive behavior needed to stop. " Within minutes," DeLisi went to Whicher's office and was demoted to the Membership Sales department, causing a drop in her pay by more than half. Cmplt., ¶ 43-46. Whicher suggested the job was " too stressful" for DeLisi, which was contrary to DeLisi's historically strong performance. Cmplt., ¶ 47. Later that day, partially because of the stress and anxiety caused by DeMonte's sexual harassment, DeLisi took a medically-approved disability leave. Cmplt., ¶ 48.

On July 24, 2012, DeLisi filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ). She returned to

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work at the NAPW following her leave in January 2013. Cmplt., ¶ 50-51. Soon thereafter, DeLisi was subject to a " hostile and retaliatory work atmosphere" which included efforts to isolate and intimidate her, requiring her to pursue " dead-end" sales leads which threatened her income, and requiring her to solicit unsatisfied former members. Cmplt., ¶ 52. As to Defendant Wesser specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the retaliation included Wesser's " improper communications" with her, including his attempts " to coerce [her] into signing documents pertaining to her discrimination ...

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