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Fish v. 1295 Aroxy Cleaners

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 26, 2017

MEGAN FISH, Plaintiff,
v.
1295 AROXY CLEANERS, doing business as SPRING FALLS CORPORATION, doing business as AROXY DRY CLEANERS, ESTATE OF HAGOP POLADIAN, Defendants.

          RONALD J. KIM, ESQ. Attorneys for Plaintiff

          GREGORY V. CANALE, ESQ. Attorneys for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

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

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Megan Fish commenced the present action against Defendants 1295 Aroxy Cleaners and the Estate of Hagop Poladian[1] alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., as well as various state tort law claims. Dkt. No. 1. Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 23. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In September 2011, Fish was hired to work for ARoxy, a laundry and dry cleaning business in Queensbury, New York. Dkt. No. 43-1 ¶ 5. At the time, ARoxy had two locations, a main store and a second, smaller shop on Broad Street. Dkt. No. 43-5 at 24:22-25:12. Sometime in the fall of 2011, Fish was promoted to manager of the Broad Street store. Id. As manager, Fish was the only employee in the Broad Street store, id. at 28:11-28:25, and her primary supervisor was Poladian, who occasionally stopped by the store to review the accounting books and collect money, id. at 34:18-34:22.

         According to Fish, Poladian began sexually harassing her at the end of August 2013. Dkt. No. 43-1 ¶ 5. Between August 30, 2013, and September 27, 2013-which was Fish's last day working for ARoxy-Poladian sexually harassed and assaulted Fish on several occasions. Dkt. No. 44-2 at 2-3.[2] The first incident took place when Poladian came to the Broad Street store on a day that Fish had a sore throat, and he asked to see her throat. Dkt. No. 43-5 at 35:6-35:20. Poladian then made a gesture with his hand and mouth imitating oral sex and commented that Fish "must have some experience with that." Id. Later that day, Poladian offered Fish extra money to clean his house, and he suggested that they could have drinks and exchange massages. Id. at 36:9-36:20. Poladian made several other inappropriate sexual comments during September 2013. Dkt. No. 44-2 at 2. In addition to those comments, Fish claims that Poladian also sexually assaulted her on two occasions.

         First, on September 9, 2016, Poladian brought Fish into the back room of the Broad Street store in order to review the store's books and inventory. Dkt. No. 43-5 at 49:21-40:15. Poladian then asked Fish to give him a hug, and she agreed. Id. But when Fish heard Poladian sniffing her hair, she became uncomfortable and pulled away, at which point he reached out and grabbed her breasts with both hands. Id. Fish told Poladian to stop, left the back room, and returned to the front counter. Id. at 46:22-47:5. Second, on September 16, 2013, Poladian demanded that Fish join him in the back room of the Broad Street store to review the books and inventory. Id. at 54:9-55:13. After initially refusing, Fish eventually complied. Id. Once inside, Poladian reached out, pulled Fish toward him, and, when she turned her head away, licked her face while rubbing his groin against her body. Id. With some difficulty, Fish managed to pull away from Poladian, after which he quickly exited the store. Id.

         On September 27, 2013, Poladian once again came to the Broad Street store and asked Fish to follow him into the back room to review the books and inventory. Id. at 71:20-72:16. When Fish refused, Poladian became upset, slamming books and throwing rags across the room. Id. Fish, concerned for her safety, left the store and called the police. Id. When the police arrived, Fish did not tell them about Poladian's history of sexual harassment and assault; instead, she said that Poladian had accused her of stealing from the store. Dkt. No. 44-2 at 4. With the police present, Poladian fired Fish, who retrieved her personal belongings and left the store. Dkt. No. 43-5 at 77:4-77:18.

         After timely filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Fish filed the complaint in this action on January 27, 2015. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 7. Defendants answered the complaint and, after conducting discovery, filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 43. Fish responded to the motion, Dkt. No. 44, but Defendants did not submit a reply.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A court may grant a motion for summary judgment only if it determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue warrant judgment for the movant as a matter of law. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Ctrs. Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 36 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). When analyzing a summary judgment motion, the court "'cannot try issues of fact; it can only determine whether there are issues to be tried.'" Id. at 36-37 (quotation and other citation omitted). Moreover, it is well settled that a party opposing a motion for summary ...


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