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Feliz v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 15, 2017

LUIS FELIZ, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Edgardo Ralnos, U.S.D.J.

         Luis Feliz (“Plaintiff” or “Feliz”) brings this action against his employer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“Defendant” or “MTA”), alleging employment discrimination on the basis of his gender and national origin. He alleges that Defendant's actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), and New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”). Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby DISMISSES Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, without prejudice.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff is a Hispanic male and is fluent in Spanish. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 28. Plaintiff has been employed as a Police Officer by the MTA Police Department since 2003. Id. ¶¶ 18-19.

         Prior to joining the MTA Police Department, Plaintiff was employed as a Police Officer with the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”). Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff alleges that during his career as a Police Officer at both the NYPD and MTA Police Departments he has had no disciplinary history and received six commendations. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. In connection with his employment with MTA, Plaintiff has served as a Field Training Officer and has completed six training courses in topics ranging from active shooter scenarios and terrorist threats to collision investigation and executive protection. Id. ¶¶ 27, 29.

         Plaintiff contends that on five separate occasions between 2004 and August 2015, he submitted an application for internal promotion and was rejected, despite being qualified for the positions to which he applied, as a result of discrimination on the basis of his national origin and gender. Id. ¶¶ 30-32, 62. In 2004, Plaintiff applied for a position in the Highway Unit. Id. ¶ 46. Plaintiff was rejected for the position and asserts that he was more qualified than the successful applicant. Id. ¶ 48. In 2008, Plaintiff applied for a position with the Anti-Crime Counter-Terrorism Unit and was not selected. Id. ¶¶ 54-55.

         On three separate occasions in 2007, 2010 and 2015[2], Plaintiff applied for a Detective position. Id. ¶¶ 31-57. Plaintiff asserts that although he was qualified for each of the three promotions, he was rejected on each occasion. Id. ¶¶ 32-58. Three other Hispanic males applied for the Detective position in 2015 in addition to Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 42-44. None were selected. Id. In connection with the 2015 position, Plaintiff was recommended for Detective by his supervisor. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff was interviewed for the position. Id. ¶ 34. However, Plaintiff does acknowledge that certain applicants for the 2015 position attended detective school, specifically one Caucasian male and one Hispanic male, and Plaintiff does not claim to have attended that program. Id. ¶¶ 41-43. He alleges that no Hispanic male was promoted to Detective during these three application cycles, although in 2015 two of the six successful applicants were members of a protected class: a Hispanic female and an African American male. Id. at ¶¶ 35-39, 53-59. Plaintiff alleges that there are only two Hispanic males in the MTA's 30-person Detective Unit and that no Hispanic men have been promoted to detective in at least ten years. Id. ¶ 60-61.

         II. Procedural History

         In February 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination on the basis of gender and national origin. Id. ¶ 12. The EEOC issued him a dismissal and a right to sue letter on October 24, 2016. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in this action on December 12, 2016 and filed an Amended Complaint on May 4, 2017. Plaintiff alleges that the MTA discriminated against him on the basis of national origin and gender by not promoting him on the five aforementioned occasions in violation of Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL.

         III. Legal Standard

         A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62 (2d Cir. 2014). The Court is not required to credit “mere conclusory statements” or “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see also Id. at 681 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 551). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially 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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). More specifically, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. If the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [the] complaint must be dismissed.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         The question in a Rule 12 motion to dismiss “is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.” Sikhs for Justice v. Nath, 893 F.Supp.2d 598, 615 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 378 (2d Cir. 1995)) (internal quotation marks omitted). “[T]he purpose of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ‘is to test, in a streamlined fashion, the formal sufficiency of the plaintiff's statement of a claim for relief without resolving a contest regarding its substantive merits, '” and without regard for the weight of the evidence that might be offered in support of Plaintiff's claims. Halebian v. Berv, 644 F.3d 122, 130 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Global Network Commc'ns, Inc. v. City of New York, 458 F.3d 150, 155 (2d Cir. 2006)).

         B. Statute of Limitations for Claims Pursuant to Title VII, NYSHRL and NYCHRL

         In order to file suit under Title VII, a plaintiff must first file a timely charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). See Riddle v. Citigroup, 449 F. App'x 66, 69 (2d Cir. 2011). In New York, a Title VII claim must be brought before the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged unlawful conduct in order to be considered timely. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(B); see also Harris v. City of New York, 186 F.3d 243, 247 n.2 (2d Cir. 1999) (noting that “the existence of [the NYSHR] makes New York a so-called deferral state for Title VII” purposes, such that the 300-day ...


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