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Xie v. New York City Department of Education

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 2, 2020

HANNAH XIE, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Hannah Xie, proceeding pro se, commenced the above-captioned action on July 10, 2019 against Defendants the New York City Department of Education (the “DOE”) and the United Federation of Teachers Queens Office (the “UFT”). (Compl., Docket Entry No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that the DOE failed to hire, terminated, and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”). (Id. at 4.)[1]The Court also construes Plaintiff's allegations as asserting a claim against the UFT for breach of the duty of fair representation in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (“NLRA”). By Memorandum and Order dated October 17, 2019 (the “October 2019 Decision”), the Court dismissed the Complaint and granted Plaintiff thirty days to file an amended complaint. (Oct. 2019 Decision, Docket Entry No. 4.)

         On November 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Am. Compl., Docket Entry No. 5.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses the Complaint and the Amended Complaint.

         I. Background

         The Court assumes the truth of the factual allegations in the Complaint for the purposes of this Memorandum and Order. As set forth in the October 2019 Decision, the DOE hired Plaintiff to work at Cambria Heights Academy (“CHA”) as a substitute teacher in 2008 and as an “ESL teacher” in September of 2015.[2] (Oct. 2019 Decision 2.)

         In or about October or November of 2015, Ms. Carleton (“Carleton”), one of Plaintiff's colleagues, “showed [Plaintiff] a video [depicting] how badly behaving the students in her . . . class were.” (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff told Carleton that “New York City teachers are not allowed to take . . . videos in classrooms according to law.” (Id.) Approximately ten to fourteen days later, CHA's assistant principal asked Plaintiff to write a statement about Carleton's video, but Plaintiff refused. (Id.) Plaintiff was subsequently “asked to go to the principal's office and the door was immediately shut behind [her] and [she] was told that [she] would get fired if they put [her refusal] into [her] file.” (Id.)

         In August of 2017, the DOE terminated Plaintiff's employment. (Id. at 5.) On an unspecified date, Plaintiff “filed an appeal” of her termination with the UFT, but it “did not help, ” and on June 29, 2018, the DOE “reconfirmed the discontinuance decision.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges in the Amended Complaint that, as a probationer, pursuant to the “union contract, ” she “should have [had] a mentor in the first year, should have [had] common planning time for co-teaching performers, and should have [had] a following review for TIP.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff did not receive any of these resources, but she is a “good teacher” and has “verbal and written proofs from other school administrators.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that “the true reason for [her] discontinuance of employment from [the DOE] is nothing but retaliation based on the abuse of power by the principal Melissa Menake” (Id. ¶ 2.) In addition, Plaintiff alleges that she was the subject of discrimination based on “frequent verbal threats, ” was “purposeful[ly] [given] more difficult work condition[s] (including illegal arrangement), no common planning but same performance requirement, ignoring performance progress (no review for TIP), etc.” (Id. ¶ 9.)

         As to the UFT, Plaintiff alleges that she sought “legal protection” from the UFT in her five visits to the UFT Queens Office and accuses the UFT of “negligence and irresponsibility.” (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) Moreover, in the complaint Plaintiff filed with the New York State Department of Human Rights (the “NYSDHR”), annexed to the Complaint, she alleged that, during the hearing in connection with her appeal, the “UFT did not . . . fairly represent [her], ” and instead, her UFT advocate advised her to “look for lawyers.” (Compl. 22.)

         Plaintiff requests “reinstat[ment of] [her] complaint filed [with the NYSDHR] and [the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]”, (2) reinstatement of her employment, and (3) “compensation for [her] loss due to [her] unemployment caused by the unjustifiable discontinuance decision.” (Compl. 6.)

         II. Discussion

         a. Standard of review

         A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Matson v. Bd. of Educ., 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must be mindful that a plaintiff's pleadings should be held “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); see Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that after Twombly, the court “remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally”). Nevertheless, the court is required to dismiss sua sponte an in forma pauperis action if ...

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