United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. IRIZARRY Chief United States District Judge.
Jennifer Blair (“Plaintiff”) is a transgender
female residing in Jamaica, New York. (Complaint,
(“Compl.”) Dkt. Entry No. 1, ¶ 3.) Defendant
Brooklyn Transportation Corp. (“Defendant”) is a
school bus transportation service provider incorporated in
New York. (Compl. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff brings claims under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000 et seq. (“Title VII”), the New York
State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 et
seq. (“NYSHRL”), and the New York City Human
Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107 et seq.
(“NYCHRL”). Plaintiff requests a declaratory
judgment, as well as compensatory damages for personal injury
and all past lost wages and benefits, punitive damages in the
maximum amounts permitted by law, and reasonable
attorneys' fees. (See generally Compl.)
to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendant
moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim
for relief. (See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to
Dismiss (“Def.'s Mot.”), Dkt. Entry No.
12-1.) Plaintiff opposed the motion, (See Pl.'s
Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss (“Pl.'s
Opp'n.”), Dkt. Entry No. 13.), and Defendant
replied. (See Def.'s Reply Mem. In Supp. Of Mot.
To Dismiss (“Def.'s Reply”), Dkt. Entry No.
is a transgender female residing in Jamaica, New York.
(Compl. ¶ 3.) Defendant is a school bus transportation
service provider incorporated in New York, with its principal
place of business in Brooklyn. (Id. ¶ 4.)
Defendant hired Plaintiff in 2007 as a bus driver.
(Id. ¶ 12.) When Plaintiff was hired, her
gender, gender identity, and gender expression were all
female, and her co-workers referred to her as Jennifer Blair.
(Id. ¶ 13.) However, at the time of
Plaintiff's hiring, Plaintiff's legal name was Keith
Edward Blair. (Id. ¶ 14.) Therefore,
Plaintiff's employment-related documentation and
paychecks displayed her former name. (Id.) Thus,
Defendant was aware of Plaintiff's transgender status.
2009, Plaintiff legally changed her name to Jennifer Blair
and updated her required employment documentation, including
paperwork related to her commercial driver's license,
social security records, and company paperwork accordingly.
(Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges that she was not
permitted to change the gender marker on her driver's
license. (Id. ¶ 16.)
around summer 2013, Plaintiff began working under a new
manager, William Lewis (“Lewis”). (Id.
¶ 17.) Lewis had access to employee personnel files,
which contained employees' personal information.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Lewis repeatedly tried
to get her attention while she was at work and made
inappropriate comments toward her based on sex. (Id.
¶ 18; Exhibit A, Dkt. No. 1-2.)
February 2014, Lewis issued Plaintiff's medical
certification form under her former name, Keith Edward Blair.
(Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff needed this certification form
to obtain medical clearance in order to continue operating a
bus. (Id. ¶ 21; New York State Vehicle and
Traffic Law § 19-A.) The medical certification form
utilized by Defendant is a handwritten form with a space to
write in the employee's name, social security number,
company, and position, among other details. (Def.'s Mot.,
Exhibit A & B, Dkt. No. 12-2.) In order to obtain medical
clearance in compliance with New York law, drivers have to
provide the medical certification form to a designated
medical provider and get an annual physical examination.
(Compl. ¶ 21; New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law
§ 19-A.) Plaintiff is required to obtain a physical
examination every 6 months since she is diabetic. (Compl.
February 2014, Plaintiff had received her medical
certification form with no issues. (Id. ¶ 23.)
When Plaintiff received the medical certification form under
her former male name, Plaintiff immediately alerted Defendant
to the error and requested updated paperwork under her legal
name. (Id. ¶ 24.) However, Defendant did not
reissue the paperwork even though Defendant was aware this
form was necessary for Plaintiff to obtain a physical exam to
renew her commercial driver's license. (Id.
received a letter from Defendant in June 2014 that she was no
longer qualified to operate a commercial vehicle as her
medical clearance had lapsed effective June 4, 2014.
(Id.) At this time, Plaintiff went to a designated
medical provider and “convinced” the medical
provider to call Defendant in order to get the information
necessary for the evaluation, rather than rely on the
inaccurate form. (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff was
informed during her physical examination that the
requirements for diabetic drivers to obtain medical clearance
now required an evaluation by an endocrinologist.
(Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff made the earliest
appointment available to see an endocrinologist, July 29,
2014. (Id. ¶ 30.) After the July 29
appointment, Plaintiff was medically cleared to resume
driving, but the relevant state agencies did not finish
processing Plaintiff's paperwork until October 2014.
was suspended from her employment without pay from June 4 to
October 29, 2014. (Id. ¶ 31.) Defendant did not
provide Plaintiff with alternative work in a non-driving
position during this time. (Id. ¶ 32.)
November 12, 2014, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) alleging sex discrimination and
harassment. (Id. ¶ 33; See also
Exhibit A, Dkt. No. 1-2.) On June 20, 2016, the EEOC issued a
reasonable cause determination, finding that Plaintiff
“was subjected to gender discrimination when [her]
medical clearance form was incorrectly issued in her former
name, and she incurred a loss of income when she was
suspended without pay, all in violation of Title VII.”
(Compl. ¶ 34-35; See also Exhibit B, Dkt. No.
1-3.) The EEOC also determined that Defendant “failed
to take prompt and appropriate action by offering [Ms. Blair]
alternative work in a non-driving position and/or immediately
correcting the name to reflect [Ms. Blair's] preferred
legal name.” (Compl. ¶ 35; See also
Exhibit B, Dkt. No. 1-3.) The EEOC attempted conciliation
between the parties, but those efforts failed. (Compl. ¶
36.) Plaintiff requested a Notice of Right to Sue, which was
issued on November 30, 2016. (Id. ¶ 37; See
also Exhibit C, Dkt. No. 1-4.)
Motion to Dismiss Standard
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, pleadings
must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Pleadings are to give the defendant “fair notice of
what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Dura Pharms., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 346
(2005) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)), overruled in part on other grounds by Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). “[T]he
pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require
‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands
more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move, in lieu of an answer,
for dismissal of a complaint for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” To resolve
such a motion, courts “must accept as true all
[factual] allegations contained in a complaint, ” but
need not accept “legal conclusions.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. For this reason,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice” to insulate a claim against dismissal.
Id. “[A] complaint must contain ...