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Kneitel v. Silvery

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 19, 2018



          NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.

         On November 30, 2015, prose Plaintiff Michael J. Kneitel initiated the instant civil rights action relating to the termination of his employment by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA") and his subsequent attempts to obtain employment with that agency. (Compl. (Dkt. 1).) Before the court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. (Mot. to Dismiss ("Mot.") (Dkt. 26).) For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from the complaint, and are presumed to be true for the purposes of this motion. The court previously detailed the allegations in the complaint in connection with Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Aug. 31, 2016, Mem. & Order (Dkt. 5)), and recites only those allegations that are relevant to the present motion to dismiss.[1]

         A. Factual Background

         1. Removal from the MTA

         Plaintiff is a 53-year-old white male. (Compl at 4.) He alleges that he was employed by the MTA from August 2010 until March 2011. (Id.)

         On or about January 9, 2011, Plaintiff states that he informed his superiors at the MTA that he was unable to report to work due to a work-related injury. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff received treatment for that injury until February 15, 2011, during which time he was not paid either his salary or workers' compensation. (Id.)

         On approximately February 17, 2011, he met with non-party Ray Brennan and Defendant Anthony Parilla, an MTA general superintendent, and informed them that he had received medical authorization to resume his duties and requested leave to return to work. (Id.) On or about February 18, 2011, Parilla informed Plaintiff that the MTA viewed him as having been "absent without leave" during the period of his treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff was directed to receive a medical examination, but his attempts to comply were hindered by delays in obtaining medical paperwork. (Id at 5-6.) According to Plaintiff, he was removed from his employment on March 16, 2011, by Defendant Raymond Silvery, an Assistant Manager at the MTA. (Id. at 6.)

         2. Denial of Unemployment Benefits and MTA Employment Applications

         Following his termination, Plaintiff filed for unemployment insurance benefits. (Id.) Plaintiff states that the MTA opposed his application on the basis that he had voluntarily resigned his position, rendering him ineligible for unemployment benefits. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the New York State Department of Labor investigated his unemployment claims and the MTA's opposition and ultimately concluded that Plaintiff had not abandoned his position and so could receive unemployment benefits. (Id.)

         In the months after his removal, Plaintiff "applied to numerous civil service positions with the MTA." (Id.) Plaintiff applied to be a bus chassis maintainer in August 2011 and claims that he was "ranked as the #1 eligible candidate on the list." (Id.) Despite this ranking, Plaintiff was not hired for the position. (Id.) Following his rejection, Plaintiff requested clarification as to why he was not selected, but Defendant Diane Ariano[2] refused to provide any information or allow him the opportunity for a hearing. (Id. at 6, 12.)

         Plaintiff subsequently appeared for interviews with the MTA for positions as a provisional car inspector in April 2013, a train operator in July 2013, and a car inspector in July 2014, all without success. (Id at 7-8.) Prior to the last of these interviews, Plaintiff states that he spoke with Defendant Marisoll Gomez, who he identifies as the Human Resources Director for the MTA. (Id at 8.) Gomez heard Plaintiff's arguments as to why he should be considered for the position, and she advised Plaintiff to report for his interview. (Id.) Plaintiff completed the application process and, despite several attempts in the following weeks, was unable to obtain any substantial update from Gomez regarding the status of his application. (Id.) When Plaintiff finally reached Gomez, she informed him that "he would not be considered for any title within the MTA." (Id.)

         In connection with his applications, Plaintiff asserts that he contacted non-party Mark D. Lebow, the Board Committee Chairperson for the New York City Transit Authority. (Id. at 7.) Apparently as a result of this contact, Plaintiff avers that he was informed that "there is 'something' written in [his employment] file that is so egregious [as to] preclude[] Plaintiff from [obtaining] employment within the MTA." (14)

         B. Procedural History

         On November 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed the current action bringing causes of actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his federal constitutional rights as well as a number of state-law-based claims. (Compl) On the same day, Plaintiff moved to proceed in forma pauperis, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). (Mot. to Proceed IFP (Dkt. 2).) The court granted Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis, but dismissed several of the defendants named in the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted sua sponte. (Aug. 31, 2016, Mem. & Order (Dkt. 5).) The remaining defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety on June 15, 2017. (Mot.)

         II. ...

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