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Ivankovskaya v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Co.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 3, 2017



          Ann M. Donnelly United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, an employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA") Bus Company, alleges that the MTA Bus Company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by discriminating against heron the basis of her disability, failing to accommodate her disability, subjecting her to a hostile work environment, and suspending her without pay. The defendant moves to dismiss the plaintiffs amended complaint. For the reasons set out below, the defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         The plaintiff began work as a bus operator for the MTA Bus Company in 2006. (First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶¶ 9-10.) In 2006, she was diagnosed with disc herniation, which she claims affected her ability to sit, stand, and walk. (FAC ¶ 11.) As a result of her alleged disability, the plaintiff needed an adjustable seat in her assigned bus; with that accommodation, she was able to do her job. (FAC ¶¶ 12-13.)

         In her amended complaint, the plaintiff claims that she spoke up about her need for an adjustable seat every time that she was assigned a bus without an adjustable seat, and that she was "often denied her requested accommodation." (FAC ¶¶ 14-15.)

         On March 21, 2014, she was given a bus with a non-adjustable seat. (FAC ¶ 16.) When she complained, a supervisor by the name of "Randy" yelled at her, and said that she was "always having a problem with the seat." (FAC ¶ 16.) Randy told the plaintiff to speak with Chris Tortora, the General Superintendent of MTA Bus Company, who accused the plaintiff of "always having a problem" with her assigned buses. (FAC ¶ 17.) The plaintiff does not contend that the defendant refused to give her a different bus, nor does she allege that she was disciplined as a result of the March 21, 2014 incident.

         On April 23, 2014, the plaintiff was given a bus with a seat that was not adjustable in the way she needed. (FAC ¶¶ 18-19.) When the plaintiff told Tortora that she could not drive the bus because of her disability, he "demanded that [the plaintiff] sit behind the wheel of the bus in an aggressive manner." (FAC ¶ 20.) Tortora then instructed the plaintiff to reach under the seat to move it forward, which she was able to do, but which "exacerbated her disability;" as a result, she "ended up on disability leave for one week." (FAC ¶¶ 21, 24.) While the plaintiff complains that the seat's back support and its height could not be adjusted, she does not assert that she was required to drive that bus. (FAC ¶ 21.) The plaintiff does not allege that she was disciplined as a result of the April 23, 2014 incident, nor that she was denied leave when she hurt herself reaching under the seat.

         On June 4, 2014, the plaintiff was driving a bus, and smelled what she believed was gas.[2](FAC ¶ 25.) Believing that there was a leak, she reported the issue to her supervisor, "Benny, " who said he did not smell anything unusual, and instructed her to drive the bus. (FAC ¶ 25.) According to the plaintiff, she felt "dizzy and lightheaded" after driving the bus, and asked for an ambulance. (FAC ¶ 25.) She had a blood pressure of 190/120, and went to the hospital. (FAC¶ 25.)

         When the plaintiff returned to work almost two weeks later, on June 13, 2014, Tortora called her to his office, and told her that the bus with the reported gas leak had been inspected, and there was "nothing wrong with the bus." (FAC ¶ 26.) Tortora accused the plaintiff of making a false report, and suspended her without pay. (FAC ¶ 26.)

         After an arbitration hearing on July 28, 2014, the disciplinary charges against the plaintiff were dismissed. (FAC ¶ 25.) The plaintiff alleges that she "remains out of work without pay while she waits for her formal reinstatement at work." (FAC ¶ 29.) The defendant denies this allegation, and claims she "was not terminated." See (Defs.' Mem. at 11.)

         The plaintiff filed an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").[3] (FAC ¶ 4.) She claims that she received the right-to-sue letter on July 9, 2015; the letter, however, was dated March 31, 2015. (FAC ¶ 4.)

         On October 2, 2015, the plaintiff brought this action against the "Metropolitan Transit Authority" and Tortora. The defendants moved to dismiss the initial complaint on March 18, 2016. (ECF No. 11.) I granted the defendants' motion, and dismissed the complaint in its entirety on October 5, 2016. (Oct. 5, 2016 Decision (ECF No. 19).) In that decision, I rejected the defendants' contention that the lawsuit was not timely, but dismissed the complaint because the plaintiff named the wrong defendant, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (sued as "Metropolitan Transit Authority"); the plaintiff was employed by the MTA Bus Company, and pursuant to New York statute, employees of an MTA subsidiary, like the MTA Bus Company, are not employees of the MTA. (Oct. 5, 2016 Decision at 4-7.)

         Thereafter, on December 12, 2016, the plaintiff filed a second motion to amend the complaint, which I granted.[4] (ECF No. 23; Dec. 13, 2016 Order.) The plaintiff filed her amended complaint on December 14, 2016 ("Amended Complaint"). The parties proceeded with discovery.


         For purposes of this motion, I assume that the facts alleged in the complaint are true, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor. Town of Babylon v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency,699 F.3d 221, 227 (2d Cir. 2012). Nevertheless, the complaint must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible when the plaintiff "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This standard requires more than an "unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In the context of a discrimination action, the plaintiff must allege sufficient non-conclusory ...

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