United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A.WOLFORD, United States District Judge
Sharon Campbell ("Plaintiff) filed this action on April
30, 2013, complaining of employment discrimination in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (Dkt. 1). The case
was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Leslie G.
Foschio for disposition of all non-dispositive motions, and
to hear and report on dispositive motions for the
consideration of this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(B)(1). (Dkt. 8). On November 3, 2014, Defendant National
Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation ("Defendant")
filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 28). Magistrate
Judge Foschio filed a report and recommendation
("R&R") on July 26, 2016, recommending that
this Court grant summary judgment. (Dkt. 58). Plaintiff filed
timely objections to the R&R (Dkt. 61), and Defendant
filed a response (Dkt. 62). Oral argument was held before the
undersigned on November 22, 2016. (Dkt. 64).
Court agrees with the R&R's recommendation that
summary judgment should be granted in favor of Plaintiff, and
for the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment is granted.
factual background of this case is set forth in detail in the
R&R. (See Dkt. 58 at 3-11). Familiarity with the
R&R is assumed for purposes of this Decision and Order.
Standard of Review
district court reviews any specific objections to a report
and recommendation under a de novo standard.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C) ("A judge of the court shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made."). To trigger the de novo review
standard, objections must "specifically identify the
portions of the proposed findings and recommendations to
which objection is made and the basis for each
objection." L.R. Civ. P. 72(b); see, e.g., Molefe v.
KLMRoyal Dutch Airlines, 602 F.Supp.2d 485, 487
(S.D.N.Y. 2009). In the absence of a specific objection, the
district court reviews for clear error or manifest injustice.
Singh v. N.Y.State Dep 't of Taxation &
Fin., 865 F.Supp.2d 344, 348 (W.D.N.Y. 2011). Following
review of the report and recommendation, the district judge
"may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment
should be granted if the moving party establishes "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 court should grant summary judgment
if, after considering the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no
rational jury could find in favor of that party. See
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (citing
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)).
the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party
"must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . [T]he
nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial." Caldarola
v. Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156, 160 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting
Matsushita Elec., 475 U.S. at 586-87). "[T]he
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment. . . ."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
Judge Foschio recommended that this Court grant summary
judgment for Defendant on Plaintiffs disparate treatment
claim. (See Dkt. 58 at 12-22). Plaintiff objects to
this recommendation. (Dkt. 61-2 at 4-25). Plaintiff argues:
(1) the R&R confused issues in finding that there was
more than one adverse employment action (id. at
5-6); (2) the R&R's finding that other individuals
were not sufficiently similarly situated to Plaintiff to show
disparate treatment was erroneous (id. at 6-14); and
(3) the R&R's finding that Plaintiff failed to show
Defendant's legitimate reasons for firing Plaintiff were
pretextual was erroneous (id. at 14-25).
Plaintiff Has Established a Prima Facie Case of Gender
the summary-judgment stage, properly exhausted Title VII
claims are ordinarily analyzed under the familiar
burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas
Corp. v. Green, [411 U.S. 792] (1973), and its
progeny." Mathirampuzha v. Potter, 548 F.3d70,
At the first stage of the McDonnell Douglas
analysis, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing
& prima facie case of discrimination by showing
that: '1) [she] belonged to a protected class; 2) [she]
was qualified for the position; 3) [she] suffered an adverse
employment action; and 4) the adverse employment action
occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of
Id. (citation omitted). "The plaintiffs burden
of proof at the prima facie stage 'is not
onerous.'" Id. (citation omitted); see,
e.g., Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 203-04
(2d Cir. 1995) ("[T]he showing the plaintiff must make
as to the elements of the prima facie case in order to defeat
a motion for summary judgment is 'de
minimis.'" (citation omitted)).
Adverse Employment Action
it is undisputed that Plaintiff meets the first three prongs
of a prima facie case. (See Dkt. 58 at
14-15; Dkt. 62 at 24). Plaintiff seizes on the R&R's
statement that "Plaintiff maintains that she suffered a
number of adverse employment actions. . ., " and argues
that this statement results in a "confusion of the
issues and a misapplication of those issues to the
[McDonnell Douglas] framework." (Dkt. 61-2 at
5-6 (citing Dkt. 58 at 15)). Plaintiff, in fact, claims that
she was subject to only one adverse employment action-her
termination. Both parties agree that this is the only adverse
employment action. (See id.; Dkt. 62 at 25). Indeed,
the R&R recognizes this in finding that there is no
dispute regarding the first three prongs. (Dkt. 58 at 14-15).
Contrary to what Plaintiff claims, the misstatement as to the
number of adverse employment actions does not "taint the
rest" of the Magistrate Judge's analysis.
(See Dkt. 61-2 at 6). Magistrate Judge Foschio found
that Plaintiff had established the third prong of a prima
facie case. The parties, the R&R, and this Court
agree on that point.