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Al-Qadaffi v. Services for Underserved (SUS)

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 30, 2015


Wajid Al-Qadaffi, Plaintiff, Pro se, Bronx, N.Y. USA.

For Services For The Underserved(Sus), Defendant: Mary Ellen Donnelly, Robert Mossman Tucker, Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Department of Health Office of Mental Hygiene, Defendant: Benjamin Eldridge Stockman, Corporation Counsel Office City of New York, New York, N.Y. USA; Tanya N. Blocker, NYC Law Department, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Carol Kuzmyak, Director of Human Records SUS, Priscilla Fuller, Sr. V.P., Corporate Compliance Officer SUS, Judith Jackson, Chief of Staff, SUS, Don Hofford, Sr. V.P., Behavior Health Programs, SUS Wellness Center, Marie Sabatino, Defendants: Robert Mossman Tucker, Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.


WILLIAM H. PAULEY III, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Wajid Kahlil Al-Qadaffi, pro se, alleges various employment discrimination and federal civil rights claims against Services for the Underserved (" SUS"), five individuals affiliated with SUS--Carol Kuzmyak, Priscilla Fuller, Judith Jackson, Don Holford, and Marie Sabatino--(collectively " SUS Defendants") and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (" DOHMH"). Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.


Al-Qadaffi is a 57 year-old black man who suffers from depression and substance abuse issues. He holds a bachelor's degree and is a licensed private investigator. In February 2012, Al-Qadaffi enrolled in a mental health clinic run by Services for the Underserved (" SUS") in Brooklyn to address his chronic depression. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 9.)[1] SUS is a private non-profit organization that provides education, training, and rehabilitation services to disabled New Yorkers. Al-Qadaffi's claims relate to his experiences with SUS's employment services and " clubhouse" programs.

I. Employment Services Program

In April 2012, SUS admitted Al-Qadaffi to its Employment Services Program which places participants in job training programs or permanent employment. In May 2012, frustrated by a lack of job interviews, Al-Qadaffi complained that SUS was not placing him due to his age and mental health disability. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 10.) He informed his SUS job coach he planned to file an EEOC complaint.

The following day, SUS offered Al-Qadaffi a part-time, paid " training" position as a front desk clerk at one of its facilities. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 10.) On June 6, 2012 he began his training. But Al-Qaddafi alleges that a female administrative assistant, Ms. Carabello, who was also his supervisor, " began almost immediately to harass" him. Specifically, she refused to respond to his questions, refused to permit him to take breaks, and criticized him in the presence of others. (Compl., No. 6, at 7.) Al-Qadaffi maintains that the SUS employees at the facility were predominantly female.

Later in June, Al-Qadaffi reported via email to Fuller about his experiences with the " discriminatory culture" he believed permeated SUS. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 11.) He complained that he was being treated differently because of his race, gender, and mental disability. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 25.) In July 2012, Kuzmyak (Vice President of Human Resources at SUS), Holford (Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Programs at SUS), and other SUS personnel, met with Al-Qadaffi to discuss his concerns. Kuzymak encouraged Al-Qadaffi to apply for vacant positions and assured him that SUS personnel would not retaliate against him because of his complaints. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 11.)

Over the next three months, Al-Qadaffi applied for approximately twenty positions but received no responses. He also expressed interest in two positions at SUS's Clubhouse but was informed by Sabatino that he was not eligible because Clubhouse members are not permitted to work there. (Compl., No. 6, at 8.)

In September 2012, SUS terminated Al-Qadaffi's participation in its Employment Services program. Al-Qadaffi alleges that the reasons advanced by Sabatino for his termination--missing three days of work without calling in and making condescending comments to other staff members--were pretexts. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 27.) He complained to Fuller by email about Sabatino's " harassment and retaliation, " and attributed much of the impetus to mental health issues. (Compl., No. 6-1, at 28.) By letter, SUS informed Al-Qadaffi that his Employment Services program " case was being closed" but encouraged him to " continue to work with the SUS Brooklyn Clubhouse to address some ... skill-building needs." (Compl., No. 6-1, at 29.)

In considering this motion to dismiss, it is appropriate to take judicial notice of three New York State Division of Human Rights' (" NYSDHR") Determinations and Orders after Investigation. (See Tucker Deck Ex. E-G.) First, on December 27, 2012, Al-Qadaffi filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights (" SDHR"), which was dual-filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC"), alleging that SUS discriminated against him on the basis of age, creed, disability, race/color, and sex and retaliated against him for opposing discriminatory practices. On February 20, 2013, Al-Qadaffi filed a complaint with the SDHR, alleging that SUS retaliated against him because of the first complaint he filed. And on February 28, 2013, Al-Qadaffi filed a third complaint with the SDHR, alleging SUS retaliated against him because of the first two administrative complaints. All three complaints resulted in " no probable cause" determinations--on June 19, 2013, August 16, 2013, and August 26, 2013, respectively--finding SUS had legitimate business reasons for terminating services to Al-Qadaffi as he continued to violate its rules.

II. Clubhouse Program

In February 2012, Al-Qadaffi joined the SUS Brooklyn Clubhouse (the " Clubhouse"). (Compl., No. 6-1, at 9.) The Clubhouse is a " psychosocial clubhouse" offering a variety of services including vocational, job training, and placement assistance to individuals with mental illness or mental health issues coupled with substance abuse ...

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