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Henriquez-Ford v. Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 23, 2015



J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Maegen Henriquez-Ford ("Henriquez-Ford"), proceeding pro se, brings this action alleging that her former employer, the New York City Department of Education ("the DOE"), and the two labor unions that represented her during her employment, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators ("the CSA") and the United Federation of Teachers ("the UFT"), along with various individual defendants associated with the DOE, the CSA, and the UFT (collectively, "Defendants"), discriminated against her in violation of various federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. The DOE, the CSA, and the UFT have each moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint. For the reasons that follow, the motions are granted and the case is dismissed.

I. Background

The Court takes the following facts, pleaded in the Amended Complaint and the attachments thereto, as true for the purpose of resolving the motions to dismiss.[1]

Maegen Henriquez-Ford was employed by the DOE for over fifteen years, during which she worked in various capacities in the New York City school system. She began as a teacher, was promoted to assistant principal, and, finally, was demoted to substitute teacher with the DOE's "Absent Teacher Reserve" or "ATR." Over the course of her employment, she suffered several workplace injuries. (Dkt. No. 10 ("Am. Compl.") at 25.) First, in April 1998, a student "accidentally punched" her "in the head, causing [her] to have a concussion and head trauma." She suffered "severe headaches, blurry vision, and severe trauma" as a result. ( Id. )

Next, on May 23, 2003, she was sent to "a satellite site" to "cover for a special education teacher who was absent." "Shortly after arriving at the site, " she "sat in a chair and placed [her] bag on the heavy old fashion [sic] wooden desk in the classroom to which [she] was assigned." After she sat down, the legs of the desk "gave way, " "causing [her] to fall and be pinned under the desk." Two people were needed to remove the desk from on top of her. ( Id. )

At some point after the desk incident, Henriquez-Ford was promoted from teacher to assistant principal. In January 2007, in her capacity as an assistant principal, she distributed lunches to students on the steps of Independence High School. When she had finished handing out the lunches, she decided to return inside the school building, and "the entrance door... hit [her] when [she] opened it to enter." She felt "extreme pain in [her] head, neck, and right side." ( Id. )

Henriquez-Ford "suffer[ed] with pain from [her] injuries for more than two weeks, " after which she sought "additional medical help." She "later learned" that she had "compressed a vertebrae [sic] and suffered a pinch [sic] nerve." She "attempt[ed] to continue work in pain" for three weeks, but "suffered acute pain and could not work." Her "medical doctor... and [] psychiatrist" advised her to stop working and obtain treatment. ( Id. )

Although Henriquez-Ford's doctors deemed her "unable to work, " the DOE recommended that she return to work, as did the DOE "medical bureau." Defendant Principal Smolkin "humiliate[d] and harass[ed] Henriquez-Ford and her doctors "while [Henriquez-Ford] attempted to work and while [she] was trying to get rehabilitated." While she was "out on disability, " he "began to fabricate false charges of incompetence and unprofessional behavior." These allegations began the day after Henriquez-Ford informed Smolkin that she "had become disabled and would be taking sick time as a result of [her] line-of-duty injury." Henriquez-Ford was subsequently "demoted" to the ATR, and her "health insurance was terminated prematurely and without warning." Further, she did not receive her "summer pay" and various "retro[active] raises of 2005 [through] 2007." ( Id. at 26.)

Eventually, Henriquez-Ford returned to work as a substitute teacher in the ATR. While working at Chelsea High School, she was "assaulted by several students." One student threatened to "slash [her] throat" and told her that he and his "drug dealer friends in the school would hurt [her]." She became "frightened for [her] safety and felt completely unprotected in [her] place of work." She developed "anxiety disorder and severe depression." ( Id. ) "The administration did little to support [her], " and the UFT representative at Chelsea High School told the other teachers not to speak to Henriquez-Ford because she was "an ATR." Henriquez-Ford was told by others that Smolkin had told them not to speak to her because she is "a bitch." ( Id. )

On December 9, 2009, Henriquez-Ford was "menaced" and "pushed by two students who were known troublemakers in [her] classroom." At some point on or after December 9, 2009, a "mouse jumped out of the closet where [Henriquez-Ford] was putting some books back, ... scurried on [her] feet and darted across the room." Henriquez-Ford was "startled and mortified." She felt dizzy, her "heart began to pound, " her chest "hurt, " and her "air constricted." She pushed the "emergency buzzer" in the classroom and was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in an ambulance, where she was treated and where she stayed overnight for observation. ( Id. ) As a result of the mouse incident, Henriquez-Ford became "disabled" "physically, psychologically, and emotionally" with "compressed vertebrae[, ] nerve damage, pain inflammation of hands, ... depression, and anxiety." ( Id. at 27.)

Henriquez-Ford alleges that, after the mouse incident, she "repeatedly ask[ed] for a leave, " which was "neither denied nor granted." She did not return to work, and it took her "two years to be rehabilitated." She received partial payment of her salary during this time, but was eventually terminated because "the DOE [claimed that she] was paid three years of salary" that she "was not entitled to." ( Id. )

Henriquez-Ford further alleges that, during her time as a DOE employee, she "did not receive compensation that [she] was contractually entitled to" and "was not properly represented by CSA and UFT." ( Id. at 4.) She says that she was "forced to hire legal help" at an expense of $8, 000 because the CSA and UFT "repeated[ly] ignored [her] requests" for help. ( Id. at 11.)

Henriquez-Ford brings this action against the DOE, the UFT, and the CSA, and various individuals associated with the three entities.[2] She alleges claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), and the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"). ( Id. at 1.) She also alleges that she is owed "correct ...

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