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United States v. Niagara County

United States District Court, W.D. New York

October 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NIAGARA COUNTY, NEW YORK, Defendant.

DECISION AND ORDER

H. KENNETH SCHROEDER, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

This case was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. William M. Skretny, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), for all pretrial matters and to hear and report upon dispositive motions. Dkt. #7.

Plaintiff, United States of America, commenced this action on May 13, 2013, against Niagara County, alleging that Niagara County violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title 42, U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") when it discriminated against Correction Officer Carisa Boddecker on the basis of her sex and/or pregnancy. Dkt. #1. More specifically, the United States alleges that Niagara County violated its own pregnancy policy when it revoked her restricted duty assignment and forced her to take an extended leave of absence from her job with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office during her 2007-2008 pregnancy. Presently pending is the United States' motion to compel defendant Niagara County to provide full and complete responses to plaintiff's first set of interrogatories and first request for production of documents.

DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

Interrogatory No. 8 and Request for Production No. 19

In its motion, the United States summarizes that, "[t]aken together, Interrogatory No. 8 and Request for Production No. 19 request information and documentation regarding any pregnancy-related accommodation request made by correction officers from January 1, 2005 through the present." Dkt. #16, p.5. More specifically, in Interrogatory No. 8, the United States requests Niagara County to,

[i]dentify every request by a correction officer for an accommodation due to a pregnancy considered by Niagara County at any time from January 1, 2005 through the present. For each such request, state the name of the correction officer who made the request, the date of the accommodation request, whether the request was granted, the terms of the accommodation that was made, and the dates of the accommodation.

Dkt. #16-3, p.4. In the related request for production (Request for Production No. 19), the United States requests, "[a]ll documents, including ESI [Electronically Stored Information], relating to any requests for accommodations due to pregnancy by correction officers from January 1, 2005 through the present." Dkt. #16-4, p.6. In its October 29, 2013 response to Interrogatory No. 8, Niagara County stated that for the period 2007 through 2008, the only employee affected was Carisa Boddecker. Dkt. #24, p.7.

Although in its response to the instant motion, Niagara County maintains that the United States' request for information concerning any request for accommodation due to pregnancy from January 1, 2005 through the present is overbroad, Niagara County does state that in its February 2014 document production, it did produce responsive documents. Dkt. #24, p.7. According to Niagara County, in addition to Ms. Boddecker, it identified four other corrections officers who were pregnant during the requested time period, Employees 1 through 4, and Niagara County disclosed the personnel files for those employees. In the context of its response to the instant motion, Niagara County purports to clarify that with respect to Employees 1 and 4, although those employees had pregnancies during the requested time period, neither specifically requested restricted duty. Dkt. #24, p.8. In sharp contrast, the United States points out in its reply that publicly available documents suggest that Niagara County's statement as it relates to Employee 1 is inaccurate. "For instance, the personnel files for Employee 1 and Employee 4 contain no information about any pregnancy-related restricted duty request, and Defendant now states in its Opposition ("upon information and belief") that these employees never made such requests. However, publically available court documents from a lawsuit filed by Employee 1 indicate that she did make a restricted duty request while pregnant and filed an EEOC charge with allegations similar to the instant action." Dkt. #27, pp.5-6.

With respect to Employee 2, the United States maintains that the documents Niagara County references as being responsive to Interrogatory No. 8 and Request for Production No. 19 are, in fact, not responsive. Specifically, the United States argues,

[a]s for Employee 2, Defendant cites three documents as evidence it provided the date of the employee's restricted duty request. See Dkt. No. 24 ¶ 38. The referenced documents are doctor's notes, not restricted duty requests, and there is no indication when these notes were provided to Defendant. Exhibit 2, pp. 2-4, NICO08165, 08163, 08155. Despite Defendant's inference, a doctor's note alone (or three different notes) does not answer when the employee made a restricted duty request to Defendant - particularly given that these notes appear to refer to two different pregnancies with separate restricted duty requests.

Dkt. #27, p.6. Finally, with respect to Employee 3, identified by defendant Niagara County as an employee who had requested an accommodation due to pregnancy for the period January 1, 2005 to the present, the United States asserts that the documents identified by Niagara County as responsive to the requests are once again insufficient. Specifically, in its opposition to the instant motion, Niagara County claims that it provided the end date of Employee 3's pregnancy-related restricted duty by identifying a document stating the employee's anticipated due date. This, according to the United States, is not responsive to the question of the last date on which the employee was provided restricted duty. See Dkt. #27, p.6.

The Court agrees that Niagara County's responses to Interrogatory No. 8 and Request for Production No. 19 are deficient and incomplete. Accordingly, the United States' motion to compel is granted and defendant Niagara County is hereby ordered to supply the requested information to every subpart to Interrogatory Request No. 8, ...


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