Howard v. Transportation
ORDER granting 60 Motion for Summary Judgment. Please see attached Ruling and Order for details. Signed by Judge Robert N. Chatigny on 9/28/2017. (Chenoweth, T.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEP’T OF TRANSPORTATION,
Case No. 3:14-cv-947(RNC)
RULING AND ORDER
Plaintiff Michael Howard brings this action against his
former employer, the Connecticut Department of Transportation
(“DOT”), alleging racial discrimination in violation of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and disability
discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.
Defendant filed a
properly supported motion for summary judgment in May 2016.
Plaintiff took no action in response to the motion for more than
a year and his recent request for leave to file a response to the
motion has been denied.1
In support of the motion for summary
judgment, defendant has shown that plaintiff’s employment with
DOT was terminated after he violated DOT work rules while subject
to a last chance agreement.
Review of the record provides no
Plaintiff’s request stated that the motion had been
“inadvertently missed.” Pl.’s Mot. Ext. Time, ECF No. 81. The
request was denied for failure to show good cause for the lengthy
delay in responding. Order, ECF No. 82.
indication that summary judgment is not factually or legally
Accordingly, the motion is granted.
The record shows the following.
from 1989 to 2009.
Plaintiff worked for DOT
Compl. 8, ECF No. 1.
He most recently worked
as a “maintainer” responsible for maintenance, construction and
repair of roads.
Def.’s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 32, ECF No. 60-2.
his yearly performance reviews from 1989 through 2003, he
received ratings of “at least satisfactory.”
he did not get along with his supervisor and received multiple
write-ups for disciplinary reasons.
Def.’s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 34;
In 2005, plaintiff signed a “last chance agreement”
and was transferred.
The relevant provision of the
agreement stated, “Mr. Howard acknowledges and understands that
ANY further fact-findings that result in ANY disciplinary action
beyond a counseling will result in his termination from State
Def.’s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 24.
from 2005 through 2008.
The agreement was valid
In 2008, plaintiff signed another
stipulated agreement reinstating the terms of the 2005 agreement.
Def.’s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶¶ 27-29.
On January 20, 2009, plaintiff’s employment with DOT was
Def’s 56(a)(1) Stmt. Ex. N, at 1, ECF No. 60-4.
stated reasons for the termination were “continued violation of
Department policies, procedures and practices, which in the most
recent instances, have resulted in a violation of your Stipulated
Agreements dated August 30, 2005 and August 28, 2008.”
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment
may be granted if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
In determining whether a
genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must resolve all
ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
The court’s role is not to weigh the evidence but to
identify and dispose of claims that cannot succeed because they
lack an adequate legal or factual basis.
If a party fails to oppose a motion for summary judgment,
the court does not simply enter judgment for the moving party.
Jackson v. Fed. Express, 766 F.3d 189, 194 (2d Cir. 2014).
Instead, the court examines “the moving party’s submissions to
determine if it has met its burden of demonstrating that no
material fact remains for trial.”
681 (2d Cir. 2001).
Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677,
In conducting this examination, the court
must bear in mind two rules: a plaintiff who fails to file a
response to a defendant’s statement of material facts is deemed
to have admitted any properly supported facts set forth in the
statement; and a plaintiff who would bear the burden of proof at
trial cannot avoid summary judgment unless the record contains
evidence sufficient to allow a trier of fact to find in his
These rules often will make it difficult for a
plaintiff to avoid summary judgment when no response to a
properly supported motion for summary judgment has been filed.
Even so, the court must examine every claim or defense with a
view to determining whether summary judgment is legally and
After conducting the required
review, I conclude that the motion for summary judgment must be
granted as to both of plaintiff’s claims.
Plaintiff alleges that he was discriminated against by DOT
in violation of the ADA.
The complaint does not indicate whether
it is brought under Title I of the ADA, which applies to
employment, or Title II, which applies to government programs.
Because the complaint alleges employment discrimination, however,
it is construed to allege a claim under Title I.
See Henny v.
New York State, 842 F. Supp. 2d 530, 550 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).
complaint requests back pay and injunctive relief.
contends that the claim is barred under the Eleventh Amendment.
Def.’s Mem. 4, ECF No. 60-1.
The Eleventh Amendment bars suits against state agencies
such as DOT.
See Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Doe, 519 U.S. 425,
429 (1997); Fla. Dep’t of Health & Rehab. Servs. v. Fla. Nursing
Home Ass’n, 450 U.S. 147, 150 (1981).
The Eleventh Amendment
applies unless the state has affirmatively waived its immunity
from suit, Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Ga., 535
U.S. 613, 618 (2002), or Congress has passed a statute pursuant
to section five of the Fourteenth Amendment to abrogate the
Nev. Dep’t of Human Res. v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721, 726
The Supreme Court has held that the Eleventh Amendment
bars suits for money damages under Title I of the ADA.
Trs. of Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 374 (2001).
Accordingly, to the extent plaintiff seeks back pay under the
ADA, the motion for summary judgment must be granted.
The Eleventh Amendment does not bar an action for injunctive
relief under Title I of the ADA if the suit satisfies the
requirements of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
Trs., 531 U.S. at 374 n.9.
See Bd. of
Ex parte Young permits suits for
prospective injunctive relief against state officers in their
official capacities to remedy ongoing violations of federal law.
Ex parte Young does not apply here because the complaint does not
name a state official.
See Henny, 842 F. Supp. 2d at 545 n. 13.
Accordingly, the claim for injunctive relief under Title I is
Title VII Claim
Plaintiff alleges that DOT discriminated against him on the
basis of race when his employment was terminated.
Compl. 5, ECF
This claim is analyzed using the burden-shifting
framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S.
792, 802 (1973).
To establish a prima facie case of
discrimination, plaintiff must show that the termination of his
employment occurred in circumstances giving rise to an inference
Johnson v. Conn. Dep’t of Admin. Servs., 972
F. Supp. 2d 223, 242 (D. Conn. 2013) (citing Vivenzio v. City of
Syracuse, 611 F.3d 98, 106 (2d Cir. 2010)).
“The burden of
establishing a prima facie case is not onerous, and has been
frequently described as minimal.”
652, 654 (2d Cir. 1997).
Scarina v. Rubin, 117 F.3d
If plaintiff establishes a prima facie
case, the burden shifts to the defendant to proffer a legitimate,
Even if plaintiff could seek an injunction under Title I
requiring that he be reinstated to his position in state service,
his claim would still fail at this stage of the case. To prevail
on his Title I claim, plaintiff would have to demonstrate that he
was terminated because of a disability. Shannon v. N.Y. City
Transit Auth., 332 F.3d 95, 99 (2d Cir. 2003). Defendant has
shown that plaintiff was terminated for infractions while on a
last chance agreement unrelated to any disability. Def.’s Local
R. 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶¶ 15, 60, 73.
“nondiscriminatory reason” for its action.
Ass’n, 233 F.3d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 2000).
James v. N.Y. Racing
If the defendant
proffers such a reason, it will be entitled to summary judgment
“unless the plaintiff can point to evidence that reasonably
supports a finding of prohibited discrimination.”
Specifically, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the reason
offered by the defendant was merely a pretext or cover-up for
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530
U.S. 133, 143 (2000).
In response to plaintiff’s Title VII claim, DOT states that
his employment was terminated because he violated work rules
while under a last chance agreement that stated he would be
terminated if he received further discipline.
ECF No. 60-1.
Def.’s Mem. 8–9,
This is the same explanation DOT provided at the
time of the termination.
Review of the record discloses no reason to think DOT’s
explanation for the termination is a pretext for discrimination.
There is no indication that similarly situated employees outside
plaintiff’s protected group were not terminated.
In the absence
of such evidence, plaintiff cannot prevail on the Title VII
Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment is hereby
The Clerk may enter judgment and close the file.
So ordered this 28th day of September 2017.
Robert N. Chatigny
United States District Judge
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