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Harris v. New York State Department of Taxation

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 16, 2015

STEPHON HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION, et al., Defendants.

Glens Falls, STEPHON HARRIS Plaintiff pro se.

KEVIN M. HAYDEN, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Syracuse Regional Office, Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 30, 2013, Plaintiff pro se commenced this action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ("ADA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. See Dkt. No. 1.

On August 29, 2014, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice due to failure to comply with Rules 8 and 10(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Dkt. No. 21. On September 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, claiming that Defendants have violated the ADA, Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and that Defendants have breached Plaintiff's contractual rights under the Civil Service Employees Association ("CSEA") Contractual Agreement. See Dkt. No. 22.

Currently before the Court is Defendants' November 18, 2014 motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Dkt. No. 33. On December 1, 2014, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion. See Dkt. No. 36.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

During the time in question, Plaintiff worked for the New York State Department of Taxation. Dkt. No. 25 at 1. His Complaint alleges a number of incidents that span his entire course of employment, which began in the year 2000. Dkt. No. 33-7 at 1.[2]

During Plaintiff's first week at work in the year 2000, Defendant Padula assigned Plaintiff "to watch plumbers install a pipe in a secure area of IT receiving." Id. at 1. After the plumbers completed their work, Defendant Padula "directed the basement staff to do a physical inventory to see if anything was missing[, ]" and Plaintiff "believe[s] they were trying to see if [he] would steal something." Id. Additionally, watching plumbers was not part of Plaintiff's job description, and therefore he was forced to perform "out of title work." Id.

Defendant Padula also threatened to "write[] up" Plaintiff for a number of mistakes for which Plaintiff denies responsibility, and Plaintiff believes these events demonstrate that he was subjected to a hostile work environment. Id. First, Plaintiff was threatened with disciplinary action for failing to move an employee's seat, but "the manager discard[ed] the current seating sheet and went by an outdated one which had errors[, ]" which "made it seem that [Plaintiff] did not perform [his] duty." Id. Second, an employee by the name of "Cheryl Roisterer" improperly took a computer that Plaintiff had set up and "used [it] for an executive." Id. As Plaintiff was now missing a computer he was supposed to have set up, he was threatened for the infraction, but he "heard no mention of [Roisterer] being written up for her action." Id. Third, Defendant Padula protected, defended, and explained away Defendant Spring's actions, but it is not apparent what actions Plaintiff is referring to. Id. Finally, while out to lunch with Plaintiff, Defendant Padula "told [Plaintiff] not to let anyone at Tax call [him] a mulignan (a racially offensive term for a black person)." Id. Plaintiff "found that offensive in itself." Id.

Plaintiff also believes that Defendant Spring subjected him to a hostile work environment, and sets out a number of events in support of his position. Id. at 2. First, Defendant Spring "asked [Plaintiff] to give him a ride[, ]" and when Plaintiff "charged the [half-]hour of time[, ]... [Defendant] Spring became very mad and ask[ed Plaintiff] why [he] charged the time." Id. Plaintiff believes that this incident was the catalyst for Defendant Spring's harassing behavior. Id. Second, at the end of Plaintiff's work day, Defendant Spring followed Plaintiff to his car and told him that he "was making [Defendant Spring] look bad because of [Plaintiff's] use of sick leave." Id. Further Defendant Spring said "[t]hat the only reason [Plaintiff] has a job is so [Defendant Spring] does not have to work." Id. Third, Defendant Spring tasked Plaintiff with finding a laptop, and "kep[t] coming to harass [Plaintiff] about finding it for four days [during] which [Plaintiff] spent 12-24 hours looking [for it]." Id. Defendant Spring relieved Plaintiff from the search only after Plaintiff asked a third party to tell Defendant Spring the laptop was "involved in a [c]riminal case." Id. Finally, Defendant Spring "started in on [Plaintiff] about [his] use of sick time." Id. Presumably based on these events, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Spring violated 29 C.F.R. § 825.220(c) and Article 25 of the CSEA State-Union Contract Agreement, which prohibits discrimination. Id.

Plaintiff also believes that Defendant Pentak subjected him to a hostile work environment. Id. at 3. First, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Pentak harassed him when "she started to quiz [him] on [his] job duties." Id. Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Pentak has "looked at [him] with contempt" at all times after Plaintiff looked for the laptop involved in a criminal investigation, which is when he "crossed paths" with Defendant Pentak. Id. Third, Defendant Pentak "wrote [Plaintiff] up [for] forgetting to add in a phone number to a secondary phone field." Id. Plaintiff believes that he was written up due to his race, because other employees have done the same thing with no negative consequences. Id. Fourth, Defendant Pentak held Plaintiff responsible for "equipment that was in [his] name but not at [his] location[, ]" which was unfair because "the equipment could have been gone a year or so." Id. Fifth, Plaintiff was not granted a cubicle re-assignment which he requested due to "a loud employee... that... was beginning to harass [him]." Id. Based on these events, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Pentak violated 29 C.F.R. §§ 825.220(c) and 825.114, the latter of which provides coverage under the FMLA for inpatient care, meaning "an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility." Id.; 29 C.F.R. § 825.114. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Pentak violated Article 25 of the CSEA Contract Agreement. Id.

Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant New York State ("NYS") Department of Taxation violated 29 C.F.R. §§ 825.220(c) and 825.114 of the FLMA, the ADA for "[t]raining[, ]" and that they violated Article 25 of the CSEA Contract Agreement. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the party's claim for relief. See Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111-12 (2d Cir. 2007). In considering the legal sufficiency, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the pleading and draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor. See ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). This presumption of truth, however, does not extend to legal conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). Although a court's review of a motion to dismiss is generally limited to the facts presented in the pleading, the court may consider documents that are "integral" to that pleading, even if they are neither ...


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