United States District Court, E.D. New York
Y. SHIELDS, Magistrate Judge
Beatrice Lozada (“Plaintiff” or
“Lozada”) commenced this action on November 14,
2016, alleging employment discrimination in the form of
unlawful retaliation for the exercise of her First Amendment
rights. Specifically, Lozada claims that she was retaliated
against for filing a complaint with the New York State
Division of Human Rights. See Docket Entry
(“DE”) 1. Defendants in this action are County of
Nassau (the “County”) and Edward Mangano
before the Court is Defendant's motion to quash the
non-party depositions of Comptroller George Maragos
(“Maragos”) and Deputy County Executive Robert
Walker (“Walker”). For the reasons set forth
below, and subject to the restrictions herein the motion is
noted above, this action was commenced on November 14, 2016.
On January 24, 2017, this Court held an initial conference,
wherein the parties' proposed discovery plan was so
ordered, and discovery was scheduled to complete by November
7, 2017. DE 13, 14. On May 25, 2017, this Court held a status
conference, at which time Plaintiff was directed to depose
County witnesses by August 30, 2017. DE 19. The parties were
further directed to submit a joint status report to this
Court on August 14, 2017. DE 19. On August 31, 2017, the
parties filed their joint status letter. In the letter,
Plaintiff advised the Court that the Defendants denied her
request to depose George Maragos (the Nassau County
Comptroller) and Robert Walker (Chief Deputy County Executive
for Nassau County). Plaintiff further advised the Court of
her intent to compel the depositions of such individuals. DE
21. On October 13, 2017, the parties submitted a further
joint status letter to this Court. DE 22. In the letter,
Plaintiff once again advised the Court that Defendants were
denying Plaintiff's requests to take the depositions of
Maragos and Walker. DE 22. As Plaintiff had yet to move to
compel, this Court directed counsel to confer with regard to
the two depositions, and further directed them to submit a
proposed briefing schedule if an agreement could not be
reached. See Electronic Order dated October 23,
2017. A proposed briefing schedule was submitted for
Defendants' motion to quash, which this Court so ordered.
DE 23. On November 29, 2017, Defendants' fully briefed
motion to quash (styled as a motion to strike deposition
notices) was filed. DE 24, 25, 26. As such the motion is now
ripe for decision.
Relevant Background Information
is a Hispanic female and single mother who has been employed
by the Nassau County as an administrative aide from 2010
until 2016. Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶ 9, DE 1.
During a partially overlapping period of time, Lozada was
also a volunteer at Elmont Fire Department from 2006 to 2013.
Id. In or around 2011, Lozada filed a complaint with
the New York State Division of Human Rights
(“NYSDHR”). The complaint alleged that she was
subjected to harassment and discrimination based upon her
status as a Hispanic female and single mother while serving
as a volunteer with Elmont Fire Department. Compl. ¶ 11.
to Lozada, around the time that she filed her complaint with
the NYSDHR, she also secured a position with the County.
Lozada claims that the County was unaware of her pending
NYSDHR claim at the time she was offered the position. She
alleges that after disclosing information about her complaint
to Herbert Flores (“Flores”), a long time County
employee, she was asked to write down the names of her family
members who lived in Nassau County. After producing the list
to Flores, Flores is stated to have relayed the information
to Brian Nevin, counsel for the County Executive. Flores then
is stated to have told Lozada that he would not help her with
her complaints of discrimination. Compl. ¶ 16.
prevailed at the NYSDHR hearing. She was awarded $60, 000 in
compensatory damages, and the Fire Department was fined $20,
Compl. ¶ 17. Various media outlets publicized
Plaintiff's award. Lozada claims that the public
attention she received resulted in her becoming a target of
threats and intimidation. Compl. ¶ 18.
alleges, based upon information and belief, that on or about
March of 2013, the County became aware of Plaintiff's
complaint with the NYSDHR. Compl. ¶ 19. She states that
she was thereafter subjected to a pattern of retaliatory
behavior, including being referring to as “the problem
child of Nassau County, ” trying to freeze her out of
the workplace, and receiving threats against her and her
daughter's physical safety. Compl. ¶ 20-22. Lozada
sought assistance from the Nassau County Police Department
and the Nassau District Attorney's Office. Compl. ¶
around 2013, Lozada uncovered that the Fire Department was
illegally misappropriating monies from pension funds by
fabricating call response sheets. Compl. ¶ 24. Lozada
attempted to inform County Executive Mangano of the Fire
Department's illegal conduct; however, she was never
given a chance to meet with Mangano. Compl. ¶ 25. On or
about March 24, 2016, Plaintiff brought her concerns to the
then acting Special Assistant to the County Executive, Anne
De Michael (“De Michael”). Compl. ¶ 26.
Lozada claims that her attempts to shed light on the illegal
situation were met with hostility, and that De Michael
instructed Lozada to “shut her mouth, ” and
additionally threatened Lozada's well-being and the
well-being of her family. Compl. ¶ 26. Thereafter,
Lozada's supervisor at the County, Eldia Gonzalez, warned
Lozada to “lay off” Elmont, “as both the
town and the County are parts of the same Republican
machinery, and that she would never rise within the ranks if
she continued to make waves.” Compl. ¶ 27.
such warnings and threats, Lozada avers that she continued to
illuminate the Fire Department's wrongdoings. Compl.
¶ 29. She claims that she complained to the Captain of
the Fire Department and the District Attorney's Office.
According to Lozada, neither complaint effectuated change;
instead, the Captain met her with hostility, and the District
Attorney's Office lost her first complaint. Lozada
further claims that her endeavors to bring attention to the
Fire Department's conduct resulted in Defendants'
attempts to sabotage her career.
particular relevance to the present motion are
Plaintiff's claims that she was promised a particular
position and was denied that position in retaliation for the
expression of her First Amendment rights. The allegedly
promised position was working directly with Maragos, as his
“right hand man.” Lozada claims that she met
directly with Maragos who offered her the position at her
requested annual salary of $80, 000. The offer of employment
with Maragos is alleged to have been confirmed by Maragos and
other County employees, including Walker. Compl. ¶ 33.
Plaintiff testified as to these facts at her deposition.
Lozada claims that after the County learned of her complaint
of discrimination, the offer to work for Maragos was
rescinded. Plaintiff claims other acts of retaliation which
are not relevant to the present motion and with therefore not
be outlined herein. See Compl. ¶ 36-44. On
February 26, 2016, Lozada was terminated from her position.
Compl. ¶ 45.
OF THE MOTION