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Olivier v. County of Rockland

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 11, 2018


          Michael H. Sussman, Esq. Sussman & Watkins Counsel for Plaintiff.

          Robert B. Weissman, Esq. Saretsky Katz Dranoff & Glass LLP Counsel for Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiff Frank Olivier (“Plaintiff”) brings this Action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 et seq., against Defendants County of Rockland and Rockland County Sheriff's Department (“Defendants”) alleging that Defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination against him on the basis of his race and created a hostile work environment. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's hostile work environment and disparate treatment claims.[1] (See Dkt. No. 40.) For the reasons to follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         In considering the Motion To Dismiss, the Court takes as true the facts set forth in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiff is a black male of Haitian descent who has been employed by Defendants as a correction officer for over 20 years. (See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2 (Dkt. No. 29).) Plaintiff generally alleges that “[D]efendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination creating a hostile work environment, engaged in disparate treatment on the basis of his race[, ] and retaliated against him for his filing of an EEOC charge in November 2014.” (Id. ¶ 3.)

         On June 27, 2013, Defendants “propounded baseless disciplinary charges” against Plaintiff, alleging that he was “passing several objects” to an inmate the day before and interacting with the inmate in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner. (Id. ¶ 9 (internal quotation marks omitted).) As a result of these charges, Defendants removed Plaintiff from his post, assigned him to “random posts in contravention of his seniority, ” and revoked his ability to work overtime. (Id. ¶ 11.) In fact, Plaintiff had not engaged in any inappropriate conduct on that day, nor had he engaged in any conduct that violated the rules promulgated by Defendants. (See Id. ¶ 13.) According to Plaintiff, Defendants had never lodged charges against white officers who engaged in inappropriate contact with inmates at the jail where Plaintiff works. (See Id. ¶ 14.)

         After these charges were issued against Plaintiff, the chief of the jail claimed that Plaintiff had entered into an agreement allowing Defendants “to abrogate his bid assignment and deprive him[] of overtime opportunities.” (Id. ¶ 15.) An arbitrator, however, subsequently determined that Plaintiff never made any such agreement. (See Id. ¶ 16.)

         On September 10, 2013, Defendants charged Plaintiff with another set of disciplinary infractions, this time alleging that Plaintiff had violated the jail's social networking and media sites policy by appearing on a Facebook page “in uniform carrying a weapon.” (Id. ¶ 17 (internal quotation marks omitted).) The charge, however, was without factual basis, and the hearing officer who reviewed the charge on May 28, 2014, concluded that the allegation was baseless and ordered Defendants to pay back the time Plaintiff lost while on unpaid suspension. (See Id. ¶ 18.) Defendants have treated white officers charged with similar Facebook violations more leniently than they treated Plaintiff. (See Id. ¶ 19.) At the end of the year, on December 26, 2013, Defendants gave Plaintiff a poor evaluation, highlighting issues that no supervisor had raised with Plaintiff before or during the evaluation period. (See Id. ¶ 21.)

         On April 14, 2014, Defendants lodged more charges against Plaintiff, this time related to his participation in a movie. (See Id. ¶ 22.) According to Plaintiff, Defendants knew about the movie for more than three years before propounding the disciplinary charges, thus making the charges untimely. (See id.) As a result of these charges, Defendants suspended Plaintiff for more than 30 days and refused to allow him to return to work. (See Id. ¶ 23.) By the time Plaintiff filed his EEOC charge, Defendants had failed to convene a hearing to adjudicate the charges. (See Id. ¶ 26.) As of the filing of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has not had a hearing on these charges and Defendants have not even selected a hearing officer to preside over the hearing. (See id.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that, apart from the disciplinary charges brought against him, Defendants have “engaged in a continuing set of harassing practices which demonstrate the intentional[ly] racial bias to which they have subjected [P]laintiff.” (Id. ¶ 27.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that:

(1) In June 2013, “Defendants' agents” assigned Plaintiff to work in the unit of an inmate whom Plaintiff had shot during an escape attempt in 1995 and with whom “the employer” knew Plaintiff could not have contact, (see Id. ¶ 27(a));
(2) Defendants suspended Plaintiff without pay and barred him from entering the jail while his disciplinary charges were pending, even though Plaintiff did not pose a threat to the jail's operations, (see Id. ¶ 27(b));
(3) After the filing of Plaintiff's EEOC charge in connection with this suit, Defendants served another set of baseless charges on Plaintiff, claiming that he “called in sick and took ...

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