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Kelly v. Kingston City School District, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 13, 2017

JEFFREY A. KELLY, Plaintiff,
v.
KINGSTON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, INC., Defendant.

          JEFFREY A. KELLY Plaintiff pro se

          SHAW, PERELSON LAW FIRMMARK C. RUSHFIELD, ESQ. Attorneys for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          Mae A. D'Agostino, U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff pro se commenced this action against the Kingston City School District, Inc. on June 27, 2016.[1] Dkt. No. 1 at 1. In his original complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully discriminated against during a job interview with Kingston City School District, which resulted in him not getting hired for a clerk/typist position in June 2015. Id. at 1-3. In response to Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint, Plaintiff filed a cross-motion to amend the complaint, where he asserts claims pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12102, as amended, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (42 U.S.C. § 1981(a)), and New York State Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"). See Dkt. No. 8-4; Dkt. No. 20-2 at 1.

         Presently before this Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Plaintiffs cross-motion to amend the complaint.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff interviewed for an account clerk/typist position at the Kingston City School District ("Defendant") on June 25, 2015. See Dkt. No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that one of the interviewers, Dr. Paul Padalino, started the interview by asking "Celiac?, " and was later told by the interview committee "we're aware of the difficulties you've had in your life." Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff did not receive the job, and subsequently filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Human Rights ("DHR") and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on August 10, 2015. See Id. at 3. Following an investigation, the DHR dismissed Plaintiffs complaint on February 5, 2016, finding that there was "NO PROBABLE CAUSE to believe that the [Defendant] ha[s] engaged in or [is] engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Dkt. No. 8-3 at 1. The DHR stated that the "investigation revealed insufficient evidence to support [Plaintiffs] allegations of unlawful discrimination." Id. at 1-2. The EEOC similarly dismissed the complaint on April 8, 2016. See Dkt. No. 1 at 3, 10.

         A. Plaintiffs Original Complaint

         The original complaint named Dr. Paul Padalino, Kingston City School's Superintendent, Mr. Allen Olsen, Kingston City School's Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources and Business, and the Kingston City School District. See Dkt. No. 1 at 1. Although Plaintiff initially asserts that the action is brought under the ADA, ADEA, NYHRL, Ulster County Charter, and City of Kingston Charter, in the body of the complaint he only addresses the causes of action under the ADA and ADEA. See Dkt. No. 1 at 1, 7.

         In the original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant discriminated against him in violation of the ADA by not hiring him as a result of his actual or perceived disability. See Dkt. No. 1 at 7. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant violated the ADEA by discriminating against Plaintiff based on his age. See Id.

         B. Defendant's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

         Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim. See Dkt. No. 8-4 at 6. Specifically, Defendant moves to dismiss on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff failed to assert any plausible claim under the ADEA because he failed to allege any facts to support a claim that his age was taken into account in Defendant's decision not to hire him; (2) Plaintiff failed to assert a claim under ADA because Plaintiff has not alleged that he suffers from an impairment that substantially limits a life activity; (3) Plaintiff failed to plead any facts demonstrating that Defendant perceived him as having an impairment; (4) punitive damages are not recoverable from Defendant under the ADA or ADEA; (5) Plaintiff can not assert a claim against the named individual defendants under the ADA or ADEA; (6) Plaintiff failed to plead that he received a "right to sue letter" from the EEOC regarding his ADA claim; (7) the NYHRL claims were dismissed by New York Division of Human Rights for lack of probable cause, thus barring Plaintiffs claims in this Court; and (8) the complaint fails to allege that Plaintiff filed a notice with Defendant as required for his NYHRL claims under New York Education Law Section 3813. See Dkt. No. 8-4 at 9.

         C. Plaintiffs Proposed Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed a Cross-Motion to Amend the Complaint and Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss on September 12, 2016. Dkt. No. 20-2 at 1. Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint removed the individual defendants that had been named in the original complaint and listed the employer school district as the sole defendant. See Dkt. No. 20-2 at 1. Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint included the ADA, ADEA, and NYHRL claims of the original complaint, and added a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. In the proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges discrimination in violation of the ADA for "being regarded as having" both physical and mental illnesses, and that he "has a disability that limits the major life activity of eating." Dkt. No. 20-2 at 18. Plaintiff asserts two causes of action under the ADA: (1) his disability limits a major life activity resulting in disparate treatment in the hiring process; and (2) he was unlawfully discriminated against as being perceived as having a disability which resulted in a disparate outcome for Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the ADEA by "conflating the usual sterotype [sic] of the 'sick' person with the 'old' person, " thus discriminating against Plaintiff based on his age in the hiring process. Id. at 18-19. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant discriminated against him "on the basis of religion, " in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (42 U.S.C. § 1981a). Id. at 19. Finally, Plaintiff alleges discrimination "on the basis of marital status" in violation of NYHRL. See id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the party's claim for relief. See Patane v. Clark, 508 F.3d 106, 111-12 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). In considering the legal sufficiency, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the pleading and draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor. See ATSICommc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). This presumption of truth, however, does not extend to legal conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). Although a court's review of a motion to dismiss is generally limited to the facts presented in the pleading, the court may consider documents that are "integral" to that pleading, even if they are neither physically attached to, nor incorporated by reference into, the pleading. See Mangiafico v. Blumenthal, 471 F.3d 391, 398 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 282 F.3d 147, 152-53 (2d Cir. 2002)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a party need only plead "a short and plain statement of the claim, " see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), with sufficient factual "heft to 'sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief[, ]"' BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombty, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007) (quotation omitted). Under this standard, the pleading's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right of relief above the speculative level, " see Id. at 555 (citation omitted), and present claims that are "plausible on [their] face, " id. at 570. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to relief...... Id. (quoting [Twombty, 550 U.S.] at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955).

         Ultimately, "when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, " Twombty, 550 U.S. at 558, or where a plaintiff has "not nudged [its] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, the[ ] complaint must be dismissed[, ]" id. at 570.

         "The Iqbal plausibility standard applies in conjunction with employment discrimination pleading standards." Gillman v. Inner City Broad. Corp., No. 08 Civ. 8909, 2009 WL 3003244, *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 18, 2009). Employment discrimination claims need not contain specific facts establishing a prima facie case of discrimination, see Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514-15 (2002); rather, an employment discrimination complaint "must include only a short and plain statement of the claim . . . [that] give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiffs claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, " id. at 512 ...


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