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Bailey v. Regional Radio Group LLC

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 15, 2017

COLLEEN BAILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
REGIONAL RADIO GROUP LLC, and CLAY ASHWORTH, Defendants.

          RAISER & KENNIFF, P.C., Attorneys for Plaintiff

          THE MURRAY LAW FIRM, PLLC, Attorneys for Defendants

          ANTHONY J. COLLELUORI, ESQ., JOSEPH C. BERGER, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          SCULLIN, Senior Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgement pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See generally Dkt. No. 33.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Colleen Bailey and Defendant Clay Ashworth first met while working together at Adirondack Broadcasting in 2003. See Dkt. No. 34-1 at ¶ 3. Defendant Ashworth was the General Manager, and Plaintiff was a salesperson at that time. See id. In 2006, Defendant Ashworth left Adirondack Broadcasting to purchase Defendant Regional Radio Group, LLC. See id. at ¶ 4.

         In 2009, Plaintiff reached out to Defendant Ashworth and asked for a job at Defendant Regional Radio Group, LLC. See Id. at ¶ 5. Defendant Ashworth hired Plaintiff as the General Sales Manager and put her in charge of a five-person sales force. See Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff was employed at Defendant Regional Radio Group until September 15, 2013, when she submitted her resignation. See Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff's resignation letter was addressed to Defendant Ashworth and stated, in pertinent part, that she had

decided it is time for me to leave Regional Radio. . . . I wasn't living up to your expectations. You have decided to do what is best for your family with seeking an assistant GM and selling the stations in the near future, and my fate would be sealed with a new owner as you discussed in a recent sales meeting, so I have decided to just leave now.

See Dkt. No. 33-3 at 2.

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on March 30, 2015, asserting four causes of action. See Dkt. No. 1. First, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Regional Radio Group, LLC discriminated against her on the basis of her gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") by creating a hostile work environment and treating her differently than male employees. See Id. at ¶¶ 37-47. Second, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Regional Radio Group, LLC retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. See id. at ¶¶ 48-54. Third, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Ashworth and Regional Radio Group, LLC violated New York Humans Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(7) ("NYHRL"). See id. at ¶¶ 55-56. Finally, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Regional Radio Group, LLC violated the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") by refusing to grant her time off due to the "imminent death of her boyfriend's father." See id. at ¶¶ 57-62.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of review

         A court must grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion" and identifying which materials "demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law" and is genuinely in dispute "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the movant meets this burden, the nonmoving party must "'"set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial."'" Id. (quotation omitted) "[I]n ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the district court is not to weigh the evidence but is instead required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party, and to eschew credibility assessments[.]" Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 854 (2d Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). However, the nonmoving party cannot rely on "mere speculation or conjecture as to the true nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary judgment." Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 12 (2d Cir. 1986) (citing [Quarles v. Gen. Motors Corp., 758 F.2d 839, 840 (2d Cir. 1985) (per curiam)]).

         B. Plaintiff's Title VII and NYHRL claims[1]

         Title VII makes it "an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual with respect to [her] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's . . . sex . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Similarly, the NYHRL provides, in pertinent part, that "[i]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice . . . for an employer . . . because of an individual's . . . sex . . . to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment." N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(1)(a). The same standard of proof applies to both Title VII and NYHRL discrimination claims. See Salamon v. Our Lady of Victory Hosp., 514 F.3d 217, 226 n.9 (2d Cir. 2008) (citations omitted); Pucino v. Verizon Wireless Comm'cns, Inc., 618 F.3d 112, 117 n.2 (2d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

         1. Disparate treatment

         To establish a prima facie claim of sexual discrimination a plaintiff "must show: (1) that [s]he belonged to a protected class; (2) that [s]he was qualified for the position [s]he held; (3) that [s]he suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) that the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discriminatory intent."[2]Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521 F.3d 130, 138 (2d Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The parties do not dispute the first two elements; rather, Defendants' arguments ...


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