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Lekettey v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 30, 2015

CITY OF NEW YORK et al., Defendants.


THOMAS P. GRIESA, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kayla Lekettey brings this action against defendant City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as current and formers Parks Department staff members Ricardo Granderson, Linda Agnello, and Janna Carmona-Graf (collectively, "defendants"). Plaintiff asserts claims for unlawful employment practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and for deprivation of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985.

Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 13.) For individual defendant Granderson, who has already filed an answer, defendants move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). (Dkt. No. 13.)

For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion is granted.

The Complaint

The followings facts are drawn from the complaint, and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion.

The Parks Department is responsible for maintaining New York City's parks, and furnishing recreational opportunities for New York City residents and visitors. Defendant Agnello currently works for the Parks Department, as the Chief of Administrative Services for Capital Projects. Defendant Carmona-Graf currently works for the Parks Department as the Chief Capital Program Manager. Finally, defendant Granderson was an investigator and employee of the Parks Department's Equal Employment Office ("EEO") until he resigned in November 2011.

In October 2007, plaintiff began her work for the Parks Department as an intern. In August 2008, she was hired as a provisional employee with the title of Assistant Landscape Architect in the Parks Department's Capital Projects section.

On May 6, 2011, Svetlana Filipovich, a Consultant Project Manager for the Parks Department-a title superior to that of plaintiff-allegedly entered plaintiffs cubicle, and made sexually explicit comments to plaintiff and fondled her. Plaintiff "explicitly and emphatically rejected" Filipovich's advances. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

The next day, plaintiff filed a written complaint regarding Filipovich's conduct with plaintiffs supervisors, Raymundo Gomez and Renata Sokolowski. Plaintiff also filed that complaint with David Martin, Filipovich's supervisor.[1] On May 25, 2011, plaintiff e-mailed Granderson of the EEO office, because "she was concerned that there ha[d] been no action on her complaint and because of Filipovich's continued hovering and stalking near Plaintiff's workstation." (Compl. ¶ 15.) Granderson responded: "If I were in your shoes, then, as I wrote before, I would act like a grown up and ignore her." ( Id. ) On June 30, 2011, plaintiff received notice from Granderson that the case had been referred "to the Advocate Office for review, and that the EEO office would take no further action." (Compl. ¶ 16.)

On September 12, 2011, in response to a request from the "Community Associate EEO office" for information about any continuing harassment by Filipovich against plaintiff, plaintiff submitted "a journal detailing events of additional unlawful conduct that had occurred from the date of the first instance through July 19, 2011, and her fear of Filipovich." (Compl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff's journal entries informed the EEO Office that Filipovich "continued to hang out in the vicinity of [plaintiffs] workstation, " and that plaintiff "feared... Filipovich." (Dkt. No. 14, Ex. A at ¶ 16.) Granderson responded: "I'll take this response to mean there were no issues involving the respondent subsequent to complaint." ( Id. ; see also Compl. ¶ 17.)

On March 19, 2012, plaintiff e-mailed defendant Agnello to complain of continuing harassment from Filipovich, "including [a] March 15, 2012 confrontation with Filipovich where she made a direct threat to plaintiff that she would get rid of Plaintiff's boyfriend." (Compl. ¶ 18.) Approximately one month later, on April 17, 2012, plaintiff was transferred-at her request-to a workstation further away from Filipovich. Plaintiff claims that "Filipovich continued to taunt, tease, mock, and harass Plaintiff as to Plaintiffs lack of power to prevent such harassing behavior with the full knowledge of Plaintiffs supervisors and managers." (Compl. ¶ 21.)

On May 29, 2012, plaintiff received a "determination letter" from the EEO-dated March 28, 2012-in which Granderson stated that "probable cause existed to support Plaintiff's complaint that Filipovich committed acts of sexual harassment in violation of the City's EEO policy." (Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff claims that the approximately two-month delay in providing her with information regarding the outcome of defendants' internal investigation "until after the time period had expired for filing [an] external administrative complaint" was the result of a conspiracy between defendants Granderson, Agnello, and Carmona-Graf. (Compl. ¶ 25.)

Less than one month later, on June 22, 2012, plaintiff was informed by Carmona-Graf and Agnello that she would be terminated "because her provisional position as an Assistant Landscape Architect would end on the close of business on July 6, 2012[.]" (Compl. ¶ 22.)

Plaintiff claims that her termination "was a pretext for unlawful conduct in violation of Title VII and because she complained about such unlawful conduct, " or otherwise was "an adverse employment action against Plaintiff because she complained of workplace discrimination outlawed under Title VII." (Compl. ¶¶ 23, 35.) She also asserts Section 1983 and 1985 claims against each of the individual defendants, identically alleging that each acted "under color of law as defined under the Civil Rights Act, " and acted "with the deliberate purpose of denying Plaintiff's right to due process and to deny Plaintiff the right to redress her grievances[.]" (Compl. ¶¶ 40-41, 45-46, 50-51.)

On July 18, 2012, plaintiff filed a complaint with the NYCCHR, the substance of which largely mirrors the operative complaint in the case pending before the court. ( See Dkt. No. 14-1.) Plaintiff claims that she filed her complaint with the NYCCHR after she had "exhausted her workplace administrative remedies as required [under] current case law that is applicable in federal and state courts under... the Ellereth-Faragher exhaustion requirement[.]" (Compl. ¶ 24.) She now seeks damages, interest, attorneys' fees, and costs.

Legal Standards

I. Legal Standard for Motion ...

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