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Communications Workers of America v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 31, 2018

Local 1180, Communications Workers Of America, AFL-CIO et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
City Of New York et al, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STEWART D. AARON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a motion by Defendants, City of New York (“City”) and the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (“DCAS”) (collectively, the “Defendants”), pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c) and 12(h)(2)(B), to dismiss the claims brought by plaintiff Lynette Andrews (“Andrews”) for failure to join an indispensable party, to wit, Andrews's direct employer, the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Background Regarding Legal Claims

         On December 14, 2016, plaintiffs Local 1180, Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO (“Local 1180”), Lourdes Acevedo (“Acevedo”), Nathia Beltran (“Beltran”), Adrienne Reed (“Reed”), Jo Ann Richards (“Richards”) and Roseann Schembri (“Schembri”), commenced an action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against the City and DCAS by filing a Summons with Notice. (Summons with Notice, ECF No. 1-1, at 1.) According to the Notice, the claims asserted by Plaintiffs were for “intentional and unintentional discrimination” based on sex, gender and race, in violation of various provisions of federal law, New York state law and New York City law, including the federal Equal Pay Act and the New York State Equal Pay Law. (Id. at 2.) The Notice annexes and incorporates by reference a Charge of Discrimination that was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on December 5, 2013 against the City and DCAS by Local 1180 and Jane Doe Administrative Managers #1-1000 and Jane Doe Former Administrative Managers #1-1000, as well as a Supplemental Charge of Discrimination that was filed on November 19, 2014. (Summons with Notice, Exs. A & C.) The EEOC Charge and Supplemental Charge allege violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), in addition to violations of the Equal Pay Act. (Id.) It is alleged that the City and DCAS “engaged in a pattern or practice of wage suppression” in the job title Administrative Manager Non-Managerial (hereinafter, “Administrative Manager NM”) that “adversely impacted women and persons of color.” (Summons with Notice, Ex. A, ¶ 18.)

         On April 7, 2017, the Summons with Notice was served upon Defendants. On April 21, 2017, Defendants filed a Demand for Complaint in the New York Supreme Court. (See Local 1180, et al. v. City of New York, et al., Index No. 160513/2016, N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. County, NYSCEF Doc. No. 8.) On April 26, 2017, Defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis that it asserted claims arising under federal law. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 1-4.)

         On May 11, 2017, a Complaint was filed in this action in this Court. (Compl., ECF No. 5.) Certain of the plaintiffs named in the Complaint were the same as those named in the Summons with Notice (i.e., Local 1180, Acevedo, Beltran and Reed); two of the plaintiffs that had been named in the Summons with Notice were dropped (i.e., Richards and Schembri); and two plaintiffs were added (i.e., Andrews and Rose Reeves). (Compare Summons with Notice at 1 with Compl. at 1.)[1] The Complaint asserts claims under the federal Equal Pay Act and the New York Equal Pay Law. (Compl. ¶¶ 117-28.) The Complaint-like the EEOC Charges-alleges that the City and DCAS engaged in discriminatory pay practices with respect to the job title Administrative Manager NM. (See Compl. ¶¶ 15, 19.)

         On August 21, 2017, a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) was filed on behalf of the same plaintiffs as named in the Complaint. The FAC adds a claim under Title VII. (FAC ¶¶ 119-27.) Of relevance to the motion before the Court, the First Amended Complaint alleges that Andrews works at NYCHA (FAC ¶ 8), which is not named as a defendant in this action.

         On June 21, 2018, Defendants filed their motion for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c) and 12(h)(2)(B), to dismiss the claims asserted by Andrews on the grounds that, as Andrews's employer, “NYCHA's involvement is of such a nature that without joinder, complete relief cannot be accorded to her, ” and “pragmatic considerations” warrant dismissal. (Mot., ECF No. 54, at 1.)[2] On July 9, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their memorandum of law in opposition to the motion, arguing (among other things) that Defendants have not met the standard to show that NYCHA is a necessary party. (Opp. Mem., ECF No. 56, at 3-4.) On July 18, 2018, Defendants filed their reply memorandum (ECF No. 58), and the parties submitted supplemental briefing at the request of the Court on July 27, 2018. (ECF Nos. 60-61.)

         To put the legal issues in proper context, the Court discusses in the section below NYCHA and NYCHA's relationship with the City and DCAS.

         II. Background Regarding NYCHA And Its Relationship With City And DCAS

         NYCHA “is a public corporation created pursuant to the Public Housing law of the State of New York for the purpose of implementing the State Constitution by providing ‘low-rent housing for persons of low income as defined by law . . .' New York State Constitution, Art. XVIII, § 1.” Holmes v. N.Y.C. Hous. Auth., 398 F.2d 262, 263 (2d Cir. 1968). NYCHA “was created in 1934 pursuant to enabling provisions then contained in the Municipal Housing Authorities law, ” which was the predecessor to the New York state public housing law. See Ciulla v. State of New York, 191 Misc. 528, 530 (N.Y. Ct. Cl. 1948).

         “The New York City Housing Authority is a legal entity separate from the City of New York.” Montenegro v. City of New York, No. 00-CV-8434 (JCF), 2002 WL 500355, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 3, 2002). However, there is a closeness of relationship between the City and DCAS, on the one hand, and NYCHA, on the other hand. For example, the City's Mayor appoints the seven members of NYCHA. N.Y. Pub. Hous. Law § 402(3). Moreover, the City's Office of Payroll Administration processes payroll for NYCHA employees. (Def. 7/27/2018 Ltr., ECF No. 60, at 1.) Thus, the paystub for plaintiff Andrews is from the City. (Pl. 7/27/18 Ltr., Ex. A, ECF No. 61.)

         The Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) that is relevant to this case, which includes a February 9, 2015 side letter relating to the Administrative Manager NM job title, was entered into by the City Office of Labor Relations (“OLR”)[3] with Local 1180, and NYCHA is not a signatory to the CBA. (See Def. 7/27/2018 Ltr., App. A.) However, according to the City at oral argument, NYCHA elected to have the OLR bargain on NYCHA's behalf, such that the CBA applies to NYCHA.

         The New York City Employees' Retirement System (“NYCERS”) is a municipal public retirement system. Among the members of NYCERS are employees of NYCHA. (Website of NYCERS, “Participating Employers” (available at https://www.nycers.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/724.pdf) (last visited Jul. 31, 2018)). Andrews is a member of NYCERS. (See Pl. 7/27/18 Ltr., Ex. A.)

         DCAS is an agency of the City of New York pursuant to the New York City Charter and the New York City Administrative Code. (Def. Mem., ECF No. 55, at ...


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