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Phillips v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 27, 2017

LYNDELLE T. PHILLIPS, ESQ., Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, COMMISSIONER SALVATORE CASSANO and FIRST DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DANIEL SHACKNAI, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Jack B. Weinstein Senior United States District Judge.

         Contents

         I. Introduction......................................................................................................................2

         II. Facts.................................................................................................................................3

         III. Law..................................................................................................................................7

         A. Summary Judgment...............................................................................................7

         B. Statute of Limitations Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1981..................................8

         C. Discriminatory Termination Under 42 U.S.C. § 1981..........................................9

         IV. Application of Law to Facts...........................................................................................11

         A. Statute of Limitations for 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1981 Claims.........................11

         B. Plaintiffs 42 U.S.C. § 1981 Employment Discrimination Claim.......................11

         1. Prima Facie Case of Discrimination.....................................................................11

         2. Defendants' Non-Discriminatory Reasons for Terminating Plaintiff's Employment............................................12

         3. Discriminatory Pretext..........................................................................................13

         V. Conclusion.....................................................................................................................14

         I. Introduction

         Discrimination in the work place is often covert, and can only be revealed through a full examination of the facts. Juries are unusually well suited to making this determination after weighing the evidence and credibility of the parties. In this case, under the court's examination, plaintiffs presentation of herself at the hearing on defendant's motion for summary judgement indicates that a jury could find that she did not fail in administering her duties, and that racial discrimination was the reason for her termination.

         Lyndelle T. Phillips is the former head of the New York City Fire Department's ("FDNY") Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") Office. Alleging that she was demoted and then fired because of her race, she brings suit against the City of New York, the Fire Commissioner, and the First Deputy Commissioner.

         Defendants move for summary judgement on all claims. The motion is granted on statute of limitations grounds with respect to the Section 1983 claims.

         Based on the paper submissions and arguments by both parties, the court was prepared to grant defendants' motion on the Section 1981 claim. After observing plaintiff during her extended examination by the court, defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs Section 1981 claim is denied. A jury could find her to be a credible witness who took her job at the FDNY seriously and performed satisfactorily. Discrimination, and not poor job performance, a jury could conclude, was the reason for her termination by the FDNY.

         II. Facts

         Plaintiff, an African-American female, was appointed on June 5, 2006 Assistant Commissioner for EEO at the FDNY. Defendant Rule 56.1 Statement ("Def. 56.1 Stm't"), ECF No. 98 ¶ 1. She did not have a permanent civil service title, but was placed in a provisional capacity. Id. ΒΆ 54. For the first three years of her tenure (2006-2009), she reported to FDNY Commissioner Scoppetta, and, for the final year (2009-2010), to FDNY Commissioner Cassano. ...


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