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Supulski v. Dansville Central School District

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 17, 2014



MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.


Plaintiff Roxanne Supulski ("Supulski"), represented by counsel, brings this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") claiming that the defendant Dansville Central School District ("Dansville" or the "District" or the "School District") unlawfully retaliated against her for exercising rights under the ADA. Specifically, plaintiff, who is a former employee of the School District, and who alleges she had a disability which prevented her from being in the same room as her supervisor, claims that she was retaliated against after she entered into a separation of employment agreement with the defendant. As evidence of retaliation, plaintiff alleges that after she agreed to resign from her employment, and was no longer required to report to work, she: (1) was prevented from retrieving her personal belongings in a timely manner; (2) had her work email address discontinued; (3) had her name removed from the School District's public directory of employees found on the District's website (4) failed to receive information regarding post-employment benefits (5) was the subject of rumors spread by employees of the defendant alleging that she had been fired; (6) was prohibited from entering School District property; (7) was denied sick time and vacation time; (8) was treated less favorably than other former employees; and, (9) was replaced by a new employee more quickly than she would have liked.

Defendant denies plaintiff's claims and moves for summary judgment on grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action for retaliation. Specifically, defendant contends that in July, 2012, the parties entered into a settlement agreement pursuant to which plaintiff agreed to retire effective January 1, 2013. The agreement further provided that plaintiff would be paid her salary until January 1, 2013, but would be allowed to use accrued vacation, sick, and personal days so that she would not have to return to work upon entering into the agreement. Plaintiff also agreed to drop previously filed discrimination claims against the School District. Dansville contends that it honored the agreement, and that plaintiff raised claims of retaliation only after the defendants refused to allow her to revoke the agreement and return to her employment.

The School District further moves for an award of fees against the plaintiff on grounds that if its motion for summary judgment is granted, it will be the prevailing party in this action, and fees are warranted because plaintiff's Complaint is frivolous, without foundation, unreasonable, or brought in bad faith. Plaintiff opposses the defendant's motion.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint and grant defendant's request for fees.


The following facts are derived from the defendant's statement of facts and the plaintiff's response thereto.

According to plaintiff Roxanne Supulski, she began her employment with the Dansville Central School District in 1980, however the defendant claims that she started employment in 1982. In 2012, plaintiff served as an administrative assistant to the District Food Service Manager. In March, 2012, Supulski presented a doctor's note to the defendant stating that she needed to remove herself from her office if her supervisor was present. The note provides no explanation why plaintiff needed to not be in the presence of her supervisor, nor did it disclose any medical condition suffered by the plaintiff. Indeed, there is no information in the record as to what plaintiff's purported disability is.

Because plaintiff allegedly could not work in the presence of her supervisor, she was placed on paid administrative leave while the parties attempted to resolve the matter. As a result of being placed on paid leave, plaintiff filed an administrative charge of disability discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Neither party has submitted the administrative complaint that plaintiff filed on March 9, 2012.

The parties were able to come to a negotiated resolution of the matter before the EEOC, and on July 24, 2012, plaintiff signed a settlement agreement with the School District. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, plaintiff agreed to withdraw her EEOC Complaint, and to retire from the District effective January 1, 2013. Plaintiff also agreed to waive any claims, known or unknown, arising out of, or resulting from, her employment with the School District, including claims for discrimination and retaliation. In return, the School District agreed to allow plaintiff to use accrued sick days, vacation days, and personal days so that she would not have to return to work, but would continue receiving her full salary and benefits until January 1, 2013. The School District also allowed plaintiff to be eligible for a "special retirement benefit". In addition, the District agreed to pay plaintiff $1, 500.00.

Following plaintiff's signing the settlement agreement, the School District hired a new administrative assistant assigned to serve the Director of Food Services. Additionally, the District presented the settlement agreement to the School Board for approval. On August 14, 2012, the School Board approved the settlement and plaintiff's resignation, and on August 15, 2012, the District, by the Superintendent of Schools, signed the settlement agreement. The District closed plaintiff's work-issued email account, and removed her name from the District's directory of employees.

On August 20, 2012, plaintiff inquired the District about retrieving her personal belongings that remained on District property. In response, the Superintendent of the District sent a letter to Supulski that day inviting her to pick up her belongings on August 27, 2012. On August 27, plaintiff arrived at the District, and collected all of her belongings without incident.

Thereafter, on August 31, 2012, plaintiff sent a letter to the Superintendent purporting to revoke the settlement agreement. The District refused plaintiff's attempt to revoke the agreement, and on November 7, 2012, plaintiff sent a second letter indicating that she was "rescinding" her intent to retire. Again, however, the District rejected plaintiff's ...

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