United States District Court, N.D. New York
PETERSON, THOMAS LAW FIRM THOMAS PETERSON, ESQ. Attorneys for
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN KEITH J. STARLIN, ESQ. Attorneys for
Defendants Ass't Attorney General Office of the Attorney
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Travis Jarrett Frantti ("Frantti" or
"plaintiff") has filed this action against
defendants Susan Knapp ("Knapp"), Mary Beth LaBate
("LaBate"), Karen Davis ("Davis"), Karen
Orcutt ("Orcutt"), Christopher Amado
("Amado"), Robert Mujica ("Mujica"), and
the State of New York (the "State") (collectively
"defendants") asserting claims for disability
discrimination under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
(First Cause of Action), employment discrimination and
retaliation under Titles I and V of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA") (Second Cause of Action),
and a claim for the denial of Equal Protection under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Third and Fourth Causes of Action).
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, actual damages, and
have moved pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) seeking partial dismissal of
Frantti's complaint. The motion has been fully briefed
and will be considered on the basis of the submissions
without oral argument.
of 1996, Frantti began working for the State's Division
of Budget ("DOB") where, in 2010, he became a
Principal Fiscal Policy Analyst. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11.
Two years later, in July of 2012, plaintiff contracted an
"intermittently debilitating" gastro-intestinal
illness. Id. ¶ 12. Although this medical
condition "has slowly improved over time, "
plaintiff's illness is "characterized by
exacerbations which are unpredictable in timing or
duration." Id. ¶ 14. Consequently, he
could become "incapacitated at any time, " and
"[d]uring such episodes he is unable to perform any of
his functions at work." Id.
August of 2012, Frantti accepted a position with the
State's Division of Criminal Justice Services
("DJCS") working directly with the Deputy Secretary
for Public Safety, a move which required him to relocate his
office from the DOB's suite at the State Capitol to a
DJCS facility located elsewhere. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 17.
According to plaintiff, his superiors at DOB explained this
move to DJCS would be only a temporary one; in fact,
plaintiff would even stay on DOB's payroll and in a DOB
job title. Id. ¶ 17.
of 2013, the Deputy Secretary of Public Safety announced her
departure from State service. Compl. ¶ 18. Because this
departure resulted in the bulk of his work responsibilities
being eliminated, in August of 2013 Frantti requested a
return to his position at DOB in the State Capitol.
Id. Orcutt, an Administrative Officer with the Human
Resources Department ("HR"), told plaintiff this
could not be done because he had been "assigned" to
DCJS. Id. ¶¶ 6, 19.
September of 2013, Frantti met with Davis, the HR Director,
to figure out the best way to get back to his old assignment
at DOB. Compl.¶¶ 5, 20. Plaintiff also attended a
second meeting with Davis, Orcutt, "and others, "
who told him "he would be evaluated for a 2-month period
to determine if he was performing work at his DOB Principal
Fiscal Policy Analyst salary grade 31." Id.
¶ 20. During this two-month period, plaintiff repeatedly
requested, and was denied, assignments at his salary grade.
Id. Instead, plaintiff was assigned "only work
far below" his salary grade. Id.
January 7, 2014, Frantti submitted a report to HR Director
Davis "requesting assistance in understanding his
current employment situation and how to best return to a DOB
position." Compl. ¶ 21. This report included
information about plaintiff's medical problems.
Id. Thereafter, plaintiff received a letter from HR
Officer Orcutt that contained instructions on how to take an
unpaid leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act
("FMLA"). Id. ¶ 22. This letter
explained that "any absences for [your medical]
condition beginning January 15, 2014, will count against your
annual FMLA entitlement." Id.
in January of 2014, Frantti received an unsatisfactory
performance evaluation-the first ever in his more than
seventeen years as a State employee. Compl. ¶ 24. Notably,
this negative performance evaluation covered the two-month
period during which HR Director Davis, HR Officer Orcutt, and
others had indicated that HR would be evaluating the
appropriateness of plaintiff's current salary grade.
Id. As a result of this unsatisfactory evaluation,
plaintiff was demoted to Associate Budget Examiner at Salary
Grade 27. Id. ¶ 25.
February 11, 2014, Frantti was informed that his demotion
came from "upper management." Compl. ¶ 25.
According to plaintiff, this referred to Knapp, the Chief
Budget Examiner. Id. ¶¶ 3, 25.
March of 2014, Frantti received a letter stating he had
missed twenty-five full days of work since December 30, 2013,
and explaining that he "must provide a medical note when
absent a full or partial day." Compl. ¶ 26.
March 21, 2014, Frantti received another letter stating he
must "call-in" within two hours after the start of
each work day on which he is absent or else his pay would be
docked. Compl. ¶ 27.
April of 2014, Frantti's primary care physician completed
FMLA paperwork that "administratively designated" a
period of FMLA leave as beginning on January 13, 2014. Compl.
¶ 28. Plaintiff's physician later amended this FMLA
paperwork to include information explaining plaintiff
"would need to take 'breaks' while at work as
Spring of 2014, Frantti was denied a "Performance
Advance" pay increase. Compl. ¶ 29. Plaintiff
alleges this denial resulted from absences caused by his
November 13, 2014, Frantti made a written request for an
accommodation "which would allow his physician to write
excuses after an accumulated amount of absence from work
rather than being required to be seen by his physician daily
for an excuse." Compl. ¶ 30. Defendants ignored
this request. Id.
December 1, 2014, Frantti began a short-term period of
disability leave. Compl. ¶ 31. A little more than a week
later, plaintiff renewed his written request for an
accommodation. Id. ¶ 30. This request was again
ignored. Id. According to plaintiff, "more
stringent requirements were imposed" instead.
Id. For example, plaintiff was required to submit
excuses within each 24-hour period "even when absent for
an extended episode." Id.
of 2015, Frantti wrote a letter to HR Director Davis, HR
Officer Orcutt, DOB Budget Director LaBate, and DJCS Acting
Commissioner Michael Green "detailing his concerns about
retaliation for a disability and restating his request for
returning to his position at DOB." Compl. ¶ 32. In
response, the Governor's Office of Employee Affairs
initiated an investigation, but it has never been concluded.
10, 2015, Frantti returned to work at DJCS. Compl. ¶ 33.
Plaintiff received a performance evaluation the same day, and
it was again "Below Expectations" because of his
disability-related absences. Id. Plaintiff was
denied a second "Performance ...