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Saji v. Nassau University Medical Center

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 24, 2017

ROSAMMA SAJI, Plaintiff,
v.
NASSAU UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.

          For Plaintiff: Thomas Ricotta, Esq. White Ricotta & Marks, P.C.

          For Defendant: Brian Joseph Clark, Esq. Nicholas Mario Reiter, Esq. Venable LLP

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOANNA SEYBERT U.S.D.J.

         Currently pending before the Court is defendant Nassau University Medical Center's (“NUMC” or “Defendant”) motion for reconsideration of the Court's Memorandum and Order dated March 31, 2016. (Def.'s Mot., Docket Entry 49.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS reconsideration, VACATES the portion of its Memorandum and Order dated March 31, 2016, (Docket Entry 47), that denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment, (Docket Entry 34), in its entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with the background of this case, which is set forth in detail in its Memorandum and Order dated March 31, 2016 (the “Summary Judgment Order”). (Summ. J. Order, Docket Entry 47.) Briefly, in 2009, plaintiff Rosamma Saji (“Plaintiff”), a woman of Indian national origin, was hired as a per diem Registered Nurse IV (“RN-IV”) at NUMC. (Summ. J. Order at 2.) In 2010, Plaintiff was hired for the full-time RN-IV “Nurse Manager i[n] Nursing Administration” position. (Summ. J. Order at 3, n.2.) In or about 2012, NUMC investigated allegations that Plaintiff refused to provide her oncoming shift supervisor with a report at the end of her shift and deducted ten days from Plaintiff's leave bank as a disciplinary measure. (Summ. J. Order at 5.) On March 2, 2012, NUMC eliminated the full-time RN-IV position in connection with layoffs and terminated thirty-seven employees, including Plaintiff. (Summ. J. Order at 6-7.)

         On March 28, 2012, Plaintiff's former counsel sent a letter to NUMC alleging that NUMC disciplined Plaintiff and selected her for layoff based on her national origin. (Summ. J. Order at 11.) On April 16, 2012, NUMC published a job posting for an RN-IV position. (Summ. J. Order at 12.) NUMC alleged that the posting was accidental, it did not intend to hire an RN-IV in or about April 2012, and it has yet to replace Plaintiff's RN-IV Nurse Manager in Nursing Administration position. (Summ. J. Order at 12.) NUMC also alleged that the only RN-IV hiring at NUMC following Plaintiff's layoff “was to fill an RN-IV vacancy as Nurse Manager for the Operating Room, a specialized position for which Plaintiff was not qualified.” (Zink Aff., Docket Entry 37, ¶ 21.)

         On July 10, 2013, Plaintiff commenced this action alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) with respect to national origin discrimination and retaliation.[1](Summ. J. Order at 1.) Plaintiff's retaliation claim was based on NUMC's refusal to restore vacation time and its failure to rehire Plaintiff. (Summ. J. Order at 31-32.)

         I. Motion for Summary Judgment

         On December 8, 2014, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. (Def.'s Summ. J. Mot., Docket Entry 34.) With respect to Plaintiff's retaliation claim, Defendant argued that Plaintiff failed to satisfy her prima facie burden regarding causation, as the April 2012 job posting was an error, Defendant did not hire a replacement for Plaintiff's prior position, and “[t]he sole hire-full time or otherwise--by NUMC in the RN-IV classification for a position, Nurse Manager for the Operating Room Department, for which Plaintiff was not qualified, did not take place until more than six months after Plaintiff's protected activity.” (Def.'s Summ. J. Br., Docket Entry 35, at 23.)

         With respect to pretext, Defendant asserted that “more than six months elapsed between Plaintiff's protected activity and NUMC's hiring of another RN-IV, thereby making it even less likely that Plaintiff could establish the but-for causal connection needed to prevail on her retaliation claim arising from NUMC's refusal to re-hire her after her layoff.” (Def.'s Summ. J. Br. at 25.) NUMC also argued that Plaintiff failed to “raise an issue of fact regarding the veracity of NUMC's assertion that the RN-IV job posting was unintentional.” (Def.'s Summ. J. Reply Br., Docket Entry 45, at 4.)

         II. Summary Judgment Order

         On March 31, 2016, the Court issued its Summary Judgment Order. The Court granted summary judgment as to Plaintiff's discrimination claim. (Summ. J. Order at 29.) With respect to Plaintiff's retaliation claim, the Court held that Defendant's refusal to restore Plaintiff's leave time did not constitute an adverse action but denied summary judgment as to Plaintiff's retaliation claim based on Defendant's failure to rehire her. (Summ. J. Order at 31-38.)

         In denying summary judgment, the Court noted that the parties did not dispute that Plaintiff engaged in a protected activity by sending the March 28, 2012, letter and “[t]he parties further agree[d] that NUMC's decision not to rehire Plaintiff after NUMC's job posting is an adverse employment action.” (Summ. J. Order at 31.) The Court noted that “NUMC claims that the April 2012 job posting was accidental and that the sole hire by NUMC for an RN-IV position took place more than six months after Plaintiff's protected activity and was for a Nurse Manager for the Operating Room Department, a position that Plaintiff was not qualified for.” (Summ. J. Order at 35.) However, the Court held that Plaintiff stated a prima facie retaliation claim based on the very close temporal proximity between Plaintiff's March 28, 2012, letter and ...


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