United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
EDGARDO RAMOS, U.S.D.J.
Murray brings this action pursuant to the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and the New York
City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) against the
Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York, Inc.
(“CPA”) and Janice Miller, alleging employment
discrimination and retaliation on the basis of his
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). Before
the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For
the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is
CPA is a not-for-profit organization that provides services
to people with disabilities and traumatic brain injuries,
such as community living opportunities, early intervention,
and family support services. Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 2,
4. CPA's largest program is its residential services
program, which provides homes throughout New York City for
individuals with disabilities. Id. at ¶ 6.
Defendant Janice Miller is CPA's Vice President of
Program Services. Id. at ¶ 34. During the
relevant time period, Ms. Miller was responsible for
CPA's residential services program and oversaw the
management staff. See Pl.'s Ex. 40, 15:18-25.
joined CPA as a Direct Care Counselor in December 2004.
Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 14. In that role, he was responsible
for providing assisted daily living care for CPA's
residential clients. Id. at ¶ 15. His duties
included assisting clients with bathing and grooming,
preparing meals, escorting clients to the store and
appointments, and providing care for clients as needed.
Id. at ¶ 16.
October 11, 2014, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation
with another CPA employee, Regine Vanderpool, while working
the evening shift at one of CPA's residences. Pl.'s
56.1 ¶¶ 13, 14, 16; Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶
28, 30. During the altercation, Plaintiff felt a punch in his
back and realized that he had been stabbed by Ms. Vanderpool.
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 17. Plaintiff was transported by
ambulance to the hospital. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 31.
Plaintiff was released from the hospital the following day,
but later contracted Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus
Aureus (“MRSA”) and developed a cellulitis
infection because the knife with which he was stabbed was
infected. Pl.'s Response to Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 32.
days later, CPA suspended Plaintiff pending an investigation
of the stabbing incident. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 33;
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 23. CPA found no wrongdoing on
Plaintiff's part and lifted his suspension on October 17,
2014. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 26; Defs.' 56.1 ¶
34. Ms. Vaderpool's employment was terminated. Defs.'
56.1 ¶ 36. Following his release from the hospital,
Plaintiff went on an approved worker's compensation leave
of absence and received medical treatment for his stab wound
from a physician. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 27, 30; Defs.'
56.1 ¶ 38.
receiving treatment during his leave of absence,
Plaintiff's physician expressed concern with the manner
in which he was handling the stabbing-noting that Plaintiff
was hypervigilant, nervous, and uncomfortable in public
settings-and referred him to a psychologist for counseling.
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 31-32. Plaintiff saw and received
psychological treatment from a licensed clinical
psychologist, Dr. Charles Robbins, and two licensed
therapists in Dr. Robbins' office, Naomi Kavish and Senaa
Hyder. Id.; Pl.'s Ex. 3, 148:22-149:1,
150:18-22. According to Plaintiff, either Dr. Robbins or Ms.
Kavish eventually diagnosed him with PTSD. Pl.'s Ex. 3,
Plaintiff's Return to Work
early March 2015, Plaintiff contacted CPA's Human
Resources Department (“HR”) and expressed
interest in returning to work. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 45;
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 39. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff met
with Audra Zweig, CPA's Senior Employment Coordinator,
and Kwado Ofori, CPA's Staffing Manager, to receive
clearance to return to work. Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 53;
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 42. Plaintiff provided HR with a letter
from Dr. Robbins and Ms. Hyder, dated February 26, 2015,
stating that they were “clearing him to return to
full-time work without any restrictions” and
“recommending his reinstatement to his previously held
position.” Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 41; Pl.'s Ex. 15.
The clearance letter did not mention that Plaintiff had been
diagnosed with PTSD, nor did it suggest that Plaintiff
suffered from lingering emotional or psychological effects of
the stabbing. See Pl.'s Ex. 15; Defs.' 56.1
¶ 51. However, Plaintiff's worker's compensation
file-which was stamped indicating that it was provided to
CPA's HR Department on April 21, 2015-included the
The [injured worker] is becoming increasingly anxious,
realizing the impact this incident is having upon his life.
He is seeking mental health counseling with a Dr. Robbins
(psych), as he is having flashbacks and is fearful that
Regine (assailant) come (sic) after him. His appointment with
Dr. Robbins is scheduled for 11/11/14. The psychiatric
component to his disability may delay his return to
Pl.'s Ex. 12 at DEF000159. Plaintiff alleges that he told
Ms. Zweig and Mr. Ofori that he had been diagnosed with PTSD
during the clearance meeting. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 44. Mr.
Ofori testified that he was never made aware of
Plaintiff's PTSD diagnosis. Defs.' Response to
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 44.
returned to work on March 9, 2015 as a Full-Time Floater, a
position that CPA created for him because his former position
of Direct Care Counselor had been filled while he was on
leave. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 43, 46; Defs.' 56.1
¶ 56. Plaintiff alleges that when he returned to work,
he was “very forthcoming with the fact that he had PTSD
and did not have a problem sharing that he had PTSD, but had
a problem sharing details about the stabbing.”
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 50. According to Plaintiff, managers
made comments about his mental state and capabilities, and
questioned why he did not want to discuss the stabbing.
Id. at ¶ 48. In particular, Plaintiff testified
about incidents with Celeste Anderson, Julia Hudson, Mary
Grace Whitehead, and Beverly Brown. Id. at ¶
with Ms. Anderson
March 28, 2015, Ms. Anderson, who is a Program Coordinator
with CPA, called Plaintiff to give him his scheduled
assignment for the day. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 84, 86;
Pl.'s Ex. 19. According to Plaintiff, during their
conversation, Ms. Anderson asked him “what's wrong
with you” and “are you okay” and commented
that it “seems like you have an issue with me.”
Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 86. The conversation ended after
Plaintiff asked Ms. Anderson where she had been the night he
was stabbed-Ms. Anderson had been on call that night and
Plaintiff unsuccessfully tried to reach her multiple times
after the stabbing. Id. at ¶ 87; Pl.'s Ex.
19. Ms. Anderson reported the incident to Ms. Miller shortly
thereafter. See Pl.'s Ex. 19; Pl.'s Ex. 40,
with Ms. Hudson
early April 2015, Ms. Hudson, who had supervisory authority
over Plaintiff, directed him to go to one of CPA's
residences; but once he arrived, she called him claiming that
she had told him to go to a different location, even though
Plaintiff adamantly denied that she had done so. Pl.'s
56.1 ¶¶ 71-72. According to Plaintiff, Ms. Hudson
told him that “there's something wrong with
you” and “you seem like there's a
problem.” Pl.'s Ex. 3, 178:5-8. Ms. Miller
testified that when Ms. Hudson reported the incident to her
she described Plaintiff as being argumentative and combative
during their interaction. Pl.'s Ex. 40, 66:17-25.
Plaintiff asserts that he told Ms. Hudson that he had PTSD
around that time. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 74. However, the
portion of the record on which Plaintiff relies does not
support this: he only testified that he told Ms. Hudson that
he felt he was being treated differently. See Id.;
Pl.'s Ex. 3, 267:21-268:18. According to Plaintiff, Ms.
Hudson asked him if he was “okay” on multiple
other occasions. Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 75.
with Ms. Whitehead and Ms. Brown
testified that on various occasions, Ms. Whitehead, a Program
Coordinator with CPA, asked him if he was “okay”
or “all right” and attempted to
“diagnose” him. Id. at ¶¶ 54-
55. Plaintiff claims that he told Ms. Whitehead about his
PTSD during their conversations. Id. at ¶ 56.
Ms. Whitehead, however, testified that she was never made
aware of Plaintiff's PTSD diagnosis. Defs.' Response
to Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 56. ...