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Ferrara v. City of Yonkers

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 21, 2015

JOSEPH FERRARA, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF YONKERS, Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

KATHERINE B. FORREST, District Judge.

Before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment on an employment discrimination action commenced by Joseph Ferrara on February 21, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) The motions became fully briefed on May 18, 2015. Plaintiff, a male detention officer in the Yonkers Police Department, was laid off when the department eliminated funding for one "Detention Officer (Male)" position due to budget cuts. Plaintiff was laid off because he was the least senior male detention officer; however, a female detention officer who was less senior than plaintiff kept her job as "Detention Officer (Female)". Plaintiff claims that maintaining two separate, sex-based detention officer positions amounted to discrimination based on sex and that sex is not a bona fide occupational qualification for the detention officer positions. This Court disagrees. Accordingly, and for the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is DENIED and defendant's motion is GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The facts in this case are undisputed. The issue before the Court is a purely legal one.

The Yonkers Police Department, through its Civil Service Commission, employs two categories of detention officers - "Detention Officer (Male)" ("D.O. Male") and "Detention Officer (Female)" ("D.O. Female"). The positions share the same qualifications and job descriptions with one exception: the distinction as to sex. (Compl. Exs. E and F.)

On June 30, 2010, due to budget cuts, funding for two existing male detention officer positions at the Yonkers Police Department was abolished. At the same time, funding for one existing position for a female detention officer was abolished. As a result, Ferrara and two other Yonkers Police Department D.O.s were laid off. The lay-offs were based on seniority within the given job titles.

At the time of his temporary lay-off, and continuing to date, Ferrara held the job title of "Detention Officer (Male)." As of June 30, 2010, Ferrara was the least senior male filling that position. He was senior to Mary Moriarty O'Keefe, who was employed in the position of "Detention Officer (Female)." The qualifications for that position required that the detention officer be female. O'Keefe was not laid off.[1]

When he learned that he would be laid off and a less senior female would not, Ferrara complained that he was subject to unlawful employment discrimination. The City of Yonkers, Department of Human Resources responded:

You currently hold the position of Detention Officer (Male). This title is separate and distinct from Ms. O'Keefe's title of Detention Officer (Female). While both titles have the same duties, they are still different in terms of Civil Service...

(Compl. Ex. D.) In sum, the D.O. (Female) position is entitled to fulfill all the job responsibilities of a D.O. (Male); but certain responsibilities of the D.O. (Female), may only be fulfilled by a female (though such responsibilities could be fulfilled by a female police officer, a position different from that of detention officer). For instance, only a female may search a female detainee. 9 NYCRR § 7502.1(d). In addition,

Supervision of female prisoners shall be accomplished by a matron, and a female prisoner shall not be placed in or removed from a detention area unless the matron is present. The matron shall retain the key for the detention area for females and no male person shall be permitted to enter an area where female prisoners are detained unless accompanied by the matron.

9 NYCRR § 7504.1(e). There are both male and female detention officers on the job (that is, working a shift) at any given time. There has never been an instance where a female detainee could not be searched because a female was unavailable to perform such search.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Based on the maintenance of two separate, sex-based detention officer positions, plaintiff claims that defendant has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq. (First Cause of Action), § 1983 (Second Cause of Action), and the New York State Human ...


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