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Kpaka v. City University of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 28, 2015

LINDA A. KPAKA, Plaintiff,


RONNIE ABRAMS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Linda Kpaka, proceeding pro se, brings this employment discrimination action against her former employer, Borough of Manhattan Community College ("BMCC"), a college within the City University of New York ("CUNY") system, and three individuals, Howard Meltzer, Thaddeus Radell, and Simon Carr. Howard Meltzer and Simon Carr are both Associate Professors at BMCC. Defs.' Br. at 6. Thaddeus Radell is an Assistant Professor at BMCC. Id. Plaintiff alleges racial and gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and disability discrimination under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA").[1] Plaintiff filed a Complaint on July 16, 2014, ECF No. 2, and Defendants moved to dismiss on February 27, 2015, ECF No. 16. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion is granted.[2]


Plaintiff, an African American woman, was hired for the Spring 2011 semester as an Adjunct Lecturer in BMCC's Music and Art Department to teach drawing and painting classes. Opp. Ex. 1. As an Adjunct Lecturer, Plaintiff was "under signed contract" every semester. Compl. § III.C. She alleges that in May 2012, BMCC began denying her class assignments and promotions due to her race and gender. Id. On June 26, 2012, Plaintiff asserts, she was denied a full-time position and referral by the Department Chair. Opp. Ex. 1. She further claims that on February 19, 2013, she was denied a new position and referral by the Department Chair. Id. In Spring 2013, Thaddeus Radell, a male whose race is unclear from the Complaint, was promoted to Deputy Chair, although Plaintiff alleges that "his skills are not as qualified [as hers]." Compl. § III.C. Plaintiff also claims that during this time the Department Chair denied her any promotions, and new jobs were referred to Alizabeth Towery, a Caucasian female. Id. About this time-it is unclear exactly when-Plaintiff alleges that she also received a "scathing observational report" from Simon Carr, Compl. § III.C., and was accused by Defendants of using "abstract" or "ineffective" instructional techniques. Opp. ¶ 5. Plaintiff claims that, by contrast, two other individuals, both Caucasian females, received observation reports that were not "detrimental." Compl. § III.C.

On September 3, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). See Mou Decl. Ex. 1 ("EEOC Charge").[4] On June 18, 2014, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a right to sue letter. See Mou Decl. Ex. 2 ("EEOC Letter"). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint.


I. Legal Standard

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makar Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Where the plaintiff is pro se, the complaint "must be construed liberally with special solicitude and interpreted to raise the strongest claims that it suggests. Nonetheless, a pro se complaint must state a plausible claim for relief." Hogan v. Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

II. ADA Claims

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims under the ADA must be dismissed because she failed to comply with the condition precedent of filing an EEOC charge for her disability claim prior to filing the instant action. Defs.' Br. at 8.

A plaintiff seeking to bring an employment discrimination action pursuant to Title I of the ADA, as Plaintiff does here, must comply with 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, which "requires a claimant to file a charge of employment discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days after the discriminatory act." McInerney v. Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., 505 F.3d 135, 138 (2d Cir. 2007). "A plaintiff must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and obtain a right to sue letter from the EEOC before proceeding to federal district court. A district court... [may] only hear claims that are either included in the EEOC charge or are based on conduct which is reasonably related to conduct alleged in the EEOC charge." Fiscina v. New York Dist. Council of Carpenters, 401 F.Supp.2d 345, 356 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (citations omitted) (alterations in original), aff'd, 206 Fed.Appx. 8 (2d Cir. 2006). "A claim is reasonably related to' the allegations in the EEOC charge where the conduct complained of would fall within the scope of the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination.'" Ford v. New York City Dep't. of Health and Mental Hygiene, 545 F.Supp.2d 377, 391 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Smith v. Am. President Lines, Ltd, 571 F.2d 102, 107 n. 10 (2d Cir. 1978)), aff'd, 352 Fed.Appx. 471 (2d Cir. 2009).

While Plaintiff's EEOC charge does allege race and sex discrimination, the charge is entirely devoid of any mention of disabilities, much less that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff on that basis. See EEOC Charge. Nor could any disability discrimination claim be "reasonably related" to the race and sex claims alleged here since there is no suggestion that such a claim would "reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination." Ford, 545 F.Supp.2d at 391; see also Spurlock v. NYNEX, 949 F.Supp. 1022, 1030 (W.D.N.Y. 1996) (ADA claim not reasonably related to Title VII race discrimination charge where the charge did not mention that the plaintiff was disabled or that he believed that he had been discriminated against based on a disability). Because Plaintiff's EEOC charge fails to satisfy the requirements of Section 2000e-5 with respect to her ADA claims, those claims are dismissed.

Having decided this issue on the basis of Plaintiff's failure to clear this procedural bar, the Court need not reach Defendants' other ...

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