United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION & ORDER
KATHERINE B. FORREST, DISTRICT JUDGE
7, 2015, plaintiff Pari Shojae, a Muslim Persian female
pharmacist previously employed by Harlem Hospital Center,
brought this action against Harlem Hospital Center
(“Harlem Hospital”), New York City Health and
Hospitals Corporation (“HHC”), Shahnawa Khan, and
Henna Farooqi, alleging discrimination, retaliation, and
hostile work environment claims under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq as
well as under state and local laws.
about November 20, 2013, plaintiff filed a charge of
discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”); on or about April 12, 2015,
the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue Letter. (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 4-5.) Plaintiff timely filed this lawsuit.
26, 2017, defendants Harlem Hospital, HHC, and Farooqi moved
for summary judgment on all claims. (ECF No. 63.) On September
11, 2017, this case was transferred to the undersigned.
reasons set forth below, defendants' motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED.
following facts are materially undisputed and all inferences
are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
holds a doctorate in pharmacy and was hired in or about
August 2009 as a Level 2 IV Supervisor at Harlem Hospital.
During the relevant period, she was under the supervision of
both defendants Khan and Farooqi.
Plaintiff's Work under Defendant Khan
claims that defendant Khan discriminated against her by
virtue of her religion, national origin, and gender.
Specifically, she points to three separate incidents with
defendant Khan during her employment.
she was offered a signing bonus of $10, 000 upon accepting
the job. (ECF No. 64, Nacchio Declaration (“Nacchio
Decl.”), Ex. C.) Plaintiff claims that she never
received this bonus, and that when she asked defendant Khan
for it, he said to her that “a regular Pakistani
woman” would “never ask for a signing
bonus” and that it is “improper behavior for a
woman.” (ECF No. 66, Defendants' Local Rule 56.1
Statement (“Defs.' 56.1 Statement”) ¶
in March 2011, Khan reassigned plaintiff to a stockroom
supervisor position; this reassignment did not affect
plaintiff's salary. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) In
that new assignment, plaintiff supervised Khan's nephew,
whom she accused of stealing and refusing to work.
(Id. ¶¶ 36-37.) In or about May 2011,
plaintiff confronted Khan about his nephew. (Id.
¶ 38.) She alleges that he responded, “Pari, you
are Muslim, you need to be on our side” and also that
in “Pakistan, a woman would never speak to [him] this
way.” (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.) Also in May
2011, Khan reassigned her to a satellite pharmacy.
(Id. ¶ 41.) This reassignment did not affect
plaintiff's salary. Plaintiff claims that after this
reassignment she began to be excluded from meetings, though
she does not know how many meetings she was excluded from or
who decided the attendees. (Id. ¶¶ 44-46.)
on May 15, 2012, plaintiff received a letter from defendant
Khan regarding her excessive absences from work.
(Id. ¶ 47.)
September 15, 2012, plaintiff wrote a letter to Human
Resources complaining of discrimination by defendant Khan.
(Id. ¶ 50.) This was the first official
complaint filed. (Id. ¶ 51.)
Khan issued two letters to plaintiff after this date-one on
November 1, 2012, which cited her for insubordination by
being away from her desk during a “Code Blue, ”
and one on February 6, 2013, which regarded her failure to
provide medical interventions. (Id. ¶¶ 69,
71.) Neither letter had an effect on her job. (Id.
¶¶ 70, 72.) However, plaintiff alleges that they
were retaliatory in nature and that they caused her
“extreme stress.” (Id. ¶ 72.)
2013, as a result of an investigation into allegations of
nepotism, defendant Khan was demoted from his position, and
no longer supervised plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶
Plaintiff's Work under Defendant Farooqi
2013, defendant Farooqi, a Muslim woman of Indian descent,
was appointed Interim Director of Pharmacy, replacing
defendant Khan. (Id. ¶¶ 90-92.) Shortly
thereafter, Farooqi and plaintiff had two altercations.
(Id. ¶ 99.) In both cases, plaintiff came to
the administrative office, directly connected to
Farooqi's office, in order to sign into the timesheet
book. (Id. ¶¶ 98, 100.) As a matter of
practice, pharmacy staff are required to sign in and out on a
timesheet book that is kept in the administrative office in
order to record their working hours. (Id. ¶
occasions, plaintiff asked the book to be passed to her
outside of the administrative office. Farooqi reported that
plaintiff called her a devil, an allegation later confirmed
by two witnesses to the first incident. (Id.
¶¶ 101, 105, 108.) Furthermore, witnesses confirmed
that plaintiff said that she didn't want to enter the
office because she didn't want to see Farooqi's face.
(Id. ¶¶ 105, 108.) Farooqi told plaintiff
her behavior was “unprofessional.” (Id.
¶ 110.) Plaintiff threatened, on the second such
incident, to call the hospital police. (Id. ¶
told an administrator about the incidents, who in turn
contacted the human resources department. (Id.
¶ 128.) Accordingly, on July 3, 2013, plaintiff was
informed by Labor Relations Specialist Kassandra King that
she was suspended for one month because she referred to Henna
Farooqi “as a devil.” (Id. ¶ 129.)
It is the defendants' policy that only a labor relations
panel for disciplinary action can suspend an employee;
defendant Farooqi did not have this power. (Id.
January 23, 2014, after a complete investigation, plaintiff
was formally served with disciplinary charges arising from
the two June 2013 altercations with Farooqi. (Id.
maintains that all of her altercations with Farooqi were in
retaliation for complaints against defendant Khan, asserting
without providing any evidence that Farooqi was “close
with Khan” and surmising that Farooqi might retaliate
because she is Sunni, and plaintiff complained of
“Sunni favoritism and nepotism” by Mr. Khan.
(Id. ¶ 121.) Farooqi herself does not
“consider herself Sunni.” (ECF No. 64, Ex. B.,
Farooqi Deposition (“Farooqi Dep.”) at 24.)
Plaintiff's Disciplinary Infractions
addition to the three letters written by defendant Khan
discussed above, plaintiff received a number of other
disciplinary letters. Most, but not all, of these letters
referred to plaintiff's unwillingness to perform medical
interventions-a requirement of her job.
September 28, 2012, she was issued a memorandum to file (a
letter for her file noting a problem in her performance) from
one of her direct supervisors, Balvant Kabrawala, for
refusing to provide medical intervention and unprofessional
behavior during a staff meeting. (Id. ¶ 52.)
Kabrawala's memorandum stated that plaintiff had said to
him during the meeting that she “will answer to God and
God will punish you.” (Id. ¶ 53.)
October 3, 2012, Kabrawala issued a second memorandum to file
for “[j]eopardizing patient safety, disruptive behavior
with uncooperative attitude during staff meeting, ” and
refusing to perform medical interventions. (Id.
¶ 56.) Plaintiff testified that this memorandum was
insulting, but that it did not affect her job.
(Plaintiff's Deposition (“Pl.'s Dep.”) at
October 24, 2012, plaintiff was required to attend an
interdisciplinary meeting regarding the interventions.
(Defs.' 56.1 Statement ¶ 62.) Plaintiff testified
that this meeting “didn't affect [her] job.”
(Pl.'s Dep at 121:2-5.)
April 2013, plaintiff refused to attend two different staff
meetings, citing, in a letter she wrote to hospital police, a
“hostile work environment.” (Defs.' 56.1
Statement ¶ 73.)
November 19, 2013, Chong Lee, a supervisor, issued a
memorandum advising plaintiff she must complete medical
interventions and attend staff meetings. (Id.
¶¶ 134-36.) Plaintiff maintains that Lee issued
this and other memoranda at Farooqi's instruction and
based upon a retaliatory motive, but proffers no evidence
supporting this claim. (Id. ¶¶ 137-38.)
December 30, 2013, Kabrawala wrote to Farooqi complaining of
her insubordination and stating that her behavior was
“unprofessional and disruptive.” (Id.
January 2, 2014, Lee wrote a letter to Farooqi, stating that
he was unable to assign plaintiff to satellite pharmacies due
to her “refusal” to completely daily intervention
reports. (Id. ¶ 139.)
19, 2014, Nadeem Aslam, another pharmacist, complained to Dr.
Farooqi in an email that plaintiff's
“ethic/attitude could negatively influence or impact
other employees, ” citing her insubordination to him
when he was conducting a training in her department.
(Id. ¶ 141.)
Plaintiff's Suspension, Psychiatric ...