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Marshall v. New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 19, 2014

MONIQUE A. MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF TEMPORARY AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE, Defendant.

Monique A. Marshall, Pro Se, Albany, NY, for the Plaintiff.

CATHY Y. SHEEHAN, Assistant Attorney General.

HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, New York State Attorney General, The Capitol, Albany, NY, for the Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Monique A. Marshall commenced this action against defendant New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] based on race and/or national origin. ( See generally Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 19.) Pending before the court is OTDA's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 41.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

II. Background[2]

In April 2006, Marshall, an African-American female of Guyanese descent, (Am. Compl. at 1; Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 7 at 140), was hired by OTDA as a Housing Specialist I, a grade eighteen position. (Def.'s Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 2.) In May 2008, Marshall's direct supervisor, Caroline Wilcox, retired, resulting in her workload being redistributed among Marshall and the other employees in her unit "based on program experience." ( Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) In order to assist Marshall with her new assignments, she was provided with additional resources, including interns to help her complete the work, as well as other staff members completing some of her original responsibilities. ( Id. ¶¶ 8, 10.)

Beginning in early August 2009, Marshall expressed concerns to her supervisors about her continued ability to complete her workload, because an intern assigned to her had completed his/her internship. ( Id. ¶ 12.) A meeting was set up for the following week with Richard Umholtz, the unit supervisor. ( Id. ¶ 13.) In the meantime, on August 12, Marshall sent a memorandum to OTDA's Bureau of Equal Opportunity Development (EOD) regarding her workload. ( Id. ¶ 14; Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 5 ¶ 3.) Marshall subsequently met with Umholtz, Scott Edwards, Director of the Bureau of Housing and Support Services, Andrea Collins, Marshall's supervisor at the time, and Lester Freeman, OTDA's EOD Director, to discuss her concerns. (Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 17-19; Dkt. No. 50 at 11-13.) Following that meeting, Edwards issued a memorandum, dated August 25, in which he confirmed meeting with Marshall on August 19, and made "recommendations to alleviate [her] concerns regarding her work-load." (Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 19-20; Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 4 at 15-16.) Specifically, Edwards noted that, during the meeting, "Marshall re-stated her concerns regarding her workload" and her feelings that she was given "an excessive assignment both in quantity and comparatively to other programs administered by the unit." (Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 4 at 15.) As a result, several "duties were immediately relieved from... Marshall" pursuant to her "request for re-assignment" and in order "[t]o reduce the anxiety... Marshall has expressed regarding the level of work required." ( Id. at 15-16.)

Around this same time, OTDA was in the process of making personnel changes, specifically, promoting four employees-David Szary, Andrea Collins, Dana Greenberg, and Barbara Roff, who were all at the time serving as a Housing Specialist II in a provisional capacity-to permanent roles under that title. (Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 28, 32.) These appointments occurred after a civil service exam had been conducted, in January 2009, for Housing Specialist II, a grade twenty-three position. ( Id. ¶ 31.) Marshall scored a seventy-five on the exam; all of the individuals who were ultimately permanently appointed scored higher than Marshall, except for Greenberg, who recorded the same score as Marshall. (Dkt. No. 41, Attach. 6 at 47-49.)

On August 31, 2009, Marshall filed a formal complaint with EOD, by way of an email to Freeman, indicating her belief that her workload was increased and she was passed over for the promotion to Housing Specialist II, both because of her race/national origin, and out of retaliation for her earlier complaints. (Dkt. No. 50 at 20-25.) Although she no longer serves as a Housing Specialist, Marshall is still employed with OTDA as a Temporary Assistant Specialist I. (Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 36-38.)

III. Standard of Review

The standard of review pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 is well established and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard, the court refers the parties to its decision in Wagner v. Swarts, 827 F.Supp.2d 85, 92 (N.D.N.Y. 2011), ...


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