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McGriff v. City of New York Police Department

United States District Court, E.D. New York

July 30, 2018

LUQUANA McGRIFF, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT; and RICHARD NAPOLITANO, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On July 16, 2018, plaintiff Luquana McGriff, appearing pro se, filed this action alleging employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117, against her employer, the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), and Richard Napolitano. The Court directs Plaintiff to hie an amended complaint as set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, employed by the NYPD and currently on disability leave, has utilized the Court's form for employment discrimination actions. She has checked off Title VII and the ADA as the basis for jurisdiction and states that her employer discriminated against her based on her race, color and gender. See Compl. at 3, 5, ECF No. 1[1]. In Plaintiffs statement, she alleges that since August 2015, she has suffered discrimination, harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation by the NYPD, her coworkers, and Richard Napolitano. Id. at 5-6.

         Specifically, plaintiff alleges that she was denied a transfer and "different jobs within [her] command," and that her employer's actions have caused her stress. Compl. at 6-7. Plaintiff seeks unspecified compensation for pain and suffering. On April 16, 2018 and May 9, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued two separate Dismissals and Notice of Rights. Id. at 9-10.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged," Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The pleading standard is necessarily "less stringent" in the context of pro se litigants, whose complaints the Court is required to construe liberally and interpret as raising the strongest arguments they suggest Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980); Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #7, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008). Moreover, at the pleadings stage of the proceeding, the Court must assume the truth of "all well-pleaded, nonconclusory factual allegations" in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F.3d 111, 124 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). A pro se litigant should generally be granted leave to amend her complaint at least once, "when a liberal reading of the complaint gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," Shomo v. City of New York, 579 F.3d 176, 183 (2d Cir. 2009) (citafion and internal quotation marks omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Title VII

         Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against any individual with respect to "compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). In the Title VII context, "at the initial stage of the litigation ... the plaintiff does not need substantial evidence of discriminatory intent," and need only "sustain a minimal burden of showing facts suggesting an inference of discriminatory motivation." Littlejohn v. City of New York, 795 F.3d 297, 311 (2d Cir. 2015); see also Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sck Dist., 801 F.3d 72, 87 (2d Cir. 2015) ("[A] plaintiff must allege that the employer took adverse action against her at least in part for a discriminatory reason, and she may do so by alleging facts that directly show discrimination or facts that indirectly show discrimination by giving rise to a plausible inference of discrimination."). "[A] plaintiff need only give plausible support to, a minimal inference of discriminatory motivation." Vega, 801 F.3d at 84 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Nevertheless, "a discrimination complaint... must [still] at a minimum assert nonconclusory factual matter sufficient to nudge its claims across the line from conceivable to plausible to proceed." EEOC v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 768 F.3d 247, 254 (2d Cir. 2014) (alterations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Here, even under the most liberal interpretation of Plaintiffs allegations, she provides no facts that could possibly connect or link any adverse action to a protected status nor has Plaintiff provided any facts that would suggest an inference of discriminatory motivation. At present, Plaintiffs allegations do not state any facts to support a violation of Title VII. Although Plaintiff alleges that she is an African-American woman, she fails to provide facts to show that she was discriminated because of her race, color or gender. Plaintiffs claims of discrimination and harassment are conclusions that need to be supported by facts. Therefore, Plaintiff fails to state a claim under Title VII pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). However, Plaintiff may amend her complaint if she has a good faith basis to proceed on her Title VII claim.

         Retaliation

         Title VII also provides that "it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees ... because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). In order to establish a primalfacie case of retaliation, a plaintiff must show: "(1) participation in a protected activity; (2) that the defendant knew of the protected activity; (3) an adverse employment action; and (4) a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action." Littlejohn, 795 F.3d at 315-16 (internal quotation marks omitted). Protected activity includes actions taken to report or oppose unlawful discrimination, including complaints of discrimination to the employer and the filing and pursuit of administrative charges. See Cruz v. Coach Stores Inc., 202 F.3d 560, 566 (2d Cir. 2000), superseded by statute on other grounds, Local Civil Rights Restoration Act, N.Y.C. Local L. No. 85.

         However, complaints about "just any law" will not suffice; plaintiff must "have had a good faith, reasonable belief that [she] was opposing an employment practice made unlawful by Title VII." Kelly v. Howard I. Shapiro & Assocs. Consulting Eng\rs, P.C,716 F.3d 10, 14 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Vague or ambiguous complaints will not suffice, the employer should "reasonably have understood[ ] that the plaintiffs complaint was directed at conduct prohibited by Title VII." Rojas v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester,660 F.3d 98, 108 (2d Cir. 2011) (alteration and ...


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