DiFillippo v. Special Metals Corporation et al
MEMORANDUM-DECISION & ORDER: It is ordered that the granting in part and denying in part defendants' # 24 Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's employment discrimination claims pursuant to the ADA and Title VII are dismissed with preju dice, plaintiff's breach of contract and intentional tort claims are dismissed with prejudice, and further plaintiff's employment discrimination claims under the NYHRL are dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Chief Judge Norman A. Mordue on 9/30/2011. (jmb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SPECIAL METALS CORPORATION and
Bosman Law Firm, L.L.C.
6599 Martin Street
Rome, New York 13440
Attorneys for Plaintiff
A.J. Bosman, Esq.
Beth A Lockhart, Esq.
Bond Schoenck & King, P.L.L.C.
One Lincoln Center
Syracuse, New York 13202-1355
Attorneys for Defendants
Brian J. Butler, Esq.
Colin M. Leonard, Esq.
Norman A. Mordue, Chief U.S. District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
In this action, plaintiff asserts that she was subjected to unlawful discrimination by
defendants based on her sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”),
42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and based on her disability in contravention of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. Section 12101 et seq.. Plaintiff’s complaint also asserts
unlawful discrimination claims pursuant to the New York Human Rights Law (“NYHRL”),
breach of contract and intentional tortious acts by defendant Marecek arising under New York
state law. Defendants move for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's claims on various
grounds. Plaintiff opposes defendants’ motion.
RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Defendant Special Metals Corporation is located in New Hartford, New York, and
currently employs approximately 370 people. The company develops and produces nickel and
cobalt alloys for components and parts for a variety of products in various industries around the
world. During all times relevant to the present action, defendant David Marecek was employed
by Special Metals as Operations Manager of the Bar Mill Production department at the plant.
Plaintiff Linda DiFillippo began working at Special Metals in August 2005, and after a period of
training was signed to the Bar Mill department. The Bar Mill is an area of Special Metals’ New
Hartford facility which is its own production area separate and apart from the Main Plant
production area. The Main Plant production area produces the alloys and then casts large bars or
blocks, which are referred to as billots and ingots. The billots and ingots are then sent to the Bar
Mill for further processing.
Certain employees at Special Metals, including plaintiff, are represented for purposes of
collective bargaining by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and
Local Lodge 2310. At all times relevant to the complaint herein, the union had a collective
bargaining agreement (“the Agreement”) with Special Metals that defined "seniority" as
"preference in employment, based on the length of continuous service in the plant, in jobs in a
line of promotion (including single-sequence, non "bumpable" jobs) and the qualification and
ability of the employee to perform the work involved." Upon hire, each employee is assigned a
"clock number" which fixes his or her seniority for job placement, promotion and layoff - - the
lower an employee's clock number, the more senior that employee is.
There are 18 different lines of promotion established pursuant to the Agreement. Each
line of promotion pays a specific contractual wage rate. Because the New Hartford facility runs
on a 24-hour/7-day production schedule, the employees are divided into different job groups and
each job group is assigned to particular shifts to provide coverage for the 24/7 operation. The
process of placing employees within departments and groups within a particular line of promotion
is referred to throughout the Agreement as the "manning" process. The placement of employees
through the "manning" process is controlled by the Agreement between the company and the
union and by associated practices developed between the parties over the years. Barbara A.
Tarnawa has been employed at Special Metals since 1974 and has been charged with
responsibility for the "manning" process at the plant for in excess of twenty-five years.
Employees who work in the Utility line of promotion are classified at Special Metals as
Plant Utility employees. A Plant Utility employee is responsible for performing a number of job
functions, working with a variety of materials and using a variety of tools to perform those
functions. According to defendants, the primary functions of a Plant Utility employee are as
(a) Utilize pneumatic grinder to remove surface defects and prepare
various intermediate mill products for additional processing.
(b) Utilize grinder to remove material from ingots, electrodes, and
(c) Move and/or weigh and locate material and equipment.
(d) Operate overhead cranes and load and unload machinery.
(e) Transport and weigh material.
(f) Transport scrap, and trash, etc.
(g) Keeps assigned areas in a clean, orderly condition.
(h) Operate grit blaster equipment to clean surfaces of various sizes
bar, billet, and ingot material.
(i) Operate pneumatic chipping hammer to remove cans from billets.
(j) Add oil to reservoirs.
(k) Perform general work involving minor maintenance and repair.
(1) Assists in the installation and dismantling of equipment.
(m) Operates small vehicles to maintain grounds.
(n) Operate spot grinder.
(o) Operate cutting torch.
Plaintiff disputes defendants’ assertion that hand grinding is a standard of performance for Plant
Utility employees. Plaintiff contends that although there are “supposed to be a certain number of
people on a shift who are capable of hand grinding,” it “depends on the foreman and whether he
likes the worker.” Plaintiff asserts that “management plays games with the standards for
The Plant Utility position is broken down into several different departments: (a) Bar Mill
Production; (b) Bar Mill Maintenance; (c) Main Plant Production; (d) Main Plant Maintenance;
and (e) Janitorial. According to defendants, employees are placed in jobs through the "manning"
process, taking into account the company's needs, along with the seniority and group preference
of each employee, as well as any applicable work restrictions. An employee's group preference is
communicated to Special Metals' Human Resources Department through a form, titled "Hourly
Employee Action Request," upon which an employee ranks his or her preferred job group.
Each department within Plant Utility performs different functions. According to defendants, the
general job duties of employees who work in the several Plant Utility departments are as follows:
(a) Bar Mill Production (department 652) - - utilize a pneumatic
grinder to remove surface defects and prepare various intermediate
mill products for additional processing; utilize a grinder to remove
material from ingots, electrodes, and billets; move and/or weigh and
locate material and equipment; operate overhead cranes and load and
unload machinery; transport and weigh material; transport scrap, and
trash, etc; keep assigned areas in a clean, orderly condition; operate a
grit blaster equipment to clean surfaces of various sized bar, billet, and
ingot material; operate a pneumatic chipping hammer to remove cans
from billets; operate small vehicles to maintain grounds; and operate
spot grinder. Based upon the level of production in the Bar Mill, the
need for employees who are capable of hand grinding can vary on a
week to week basis.
(b) Bar Mill Maintenance (department 660) - - Move and/or weigh and
locate material and equipment; keep assigned areas in a clean, orderly
condition; add oil to reservoirs; perform general work involving minor
maintenance and repair; assist in the dismantling of equipment; and
operate a cutting torch.
(c) Main Plant Production (departments 833 and 852) - - Employees
in department 833 (ViC grinding) are required to: utilize a pneumatic
grinder to remove surface defects and prepare various intermediate
mill products for additional processing; utilize a grinder to remove
material from ingots, electrodes, and billets; move and/or weigh and
locate material and equipment; operate overhead cranes and load and
unload machinery; transport and weigh material. Employees assigned
to department 852 are required to transport scrap, and trash, etc.; and
keep assigned areas in a clean, orderly condition. As with the Bar
Mill Production department, the need for employees who are capable
of ViC grinding varies on a week-to-week basis based upon the
(d) Main Plant Maintenance (department 860) - - Move and/or weigh
and locate material and equipment; keep assigned areas in a clean,
orderly condition; add oil to reservoirs; perform general work
involving minor maintenance and repair; assist in the dismantling of
equipment; and operate a cutting torch.
(e) Janitorial - - Transport scrap, and trash, etc. and keep assigned
areas in a clean, orderly condition.
Based upon the distribution of tasks among the various departments, only the Bar Mill Production
and Main Plant Production departments involve hand grinding.
In accordance with the Agreement, employees within Plant Utility earn the same wage
(depending on years of service), irrespective of the department in which they work. Employees
assigned to the Janitorial department earn an hourly wage that is slightly less than the other Plant
Utility positions. As referenced above, plaintiff was hired in August 2005 for the Plant Utility
position in the Utility line of promotion. Upon her hire, plaintiff was assigned a clock number of
In November 2005, plaintiff bid on and - based on her seniority - was later awarded a job
opening in Cold Finish, which is in the Cold Finish line of promotion. She began training for her
new job in January 2006. On February 28, 2006, while working in Cold Finish, plaintiff
sustained an injury to her left hand when she caught it in a piece of machinery and went out of
work as a result of her injury. On May 22, 2006, plaintiff was released to light duty work with a
six week limitation on the use of her left hand. On May 30, 2006, plaintiff returned to work
pursuant to Special Metals' Modified Work Program in the same Cold Finish department that she
had been in at the time of her injury. The Modified Work Program at Special Metals is a program
whereby Special Metals offers modified work, whenever feasible, to employees whose activity
has been temporarily limited by physicians' orders due to an on-the-job or off-the-job accident or
On or about June 21, 2006, plaintiff was released to full duty by her physician. On June
21, 2006, plaintiff requested a demotion from Cold Finish back to her Plant Utility position and
that request was granted by Special Metals on June 26, 2006. Plaintiff worked in Plant Utility
from July 3, 2006, to October 26, 2006, when plaintiff's physician restricted the use of her left
hand at work. Plaintiff requested and was provided a sick leave of absence related
to this restriction. On November 29, 2006, plaintiff presented Special Metals with a "no hand
grinding" restriction from her physician. On December 4, 2006, plaintiff returned to work from
her sick leave of absence to her Plant Utility position under the Modified Work Program. When
she returned to work, plaintiff could perform all functions of the Plant Utility position with the
exception of hand grinding.
Plaintiff was laid-off in December 2007 as a result of a company-wide reduction in force
which caused fourteen employees, including plaintiff, to be laid off from the New Hartford
facility. At the time of her layoff, plaintiff was working in Plant Utility, in Main Plant
Maintenance, a position that did not require hand grinding. Plaintiff was recalled from layoff on
March 30, 2008 into the same Plant Utility position that she occupied before the layoff - - i.e.
Main Plant Maintenance. On April 16, 2008, Ms. DiFillippo submitted an Hourly Employee
Action Request to the Human Resources Department changing her group preferences which was
approved and became effective on April 28, 2008. On her Action Request form, plaintiff listed
her group preferences as follows:
On April 28, 2008, plaintiff and all of the other employees in Plant Utility were subject to
the "manning" process. Defendants assert that during the “manning” process, Ms. Tarnawa took
into account plaintiff's seniority, her group preference and her hand grinding restriction and
ultimately assigned plaintiff to Group 6 in the Janitorial department, her third choice for group
preference. Defendants’ counsel summarized the process Ms. Tarnawa used to place plaintiff in
the Janitorial department for that week as follows:
Because [plaintiff's] first group preference for the week of April 28,
2008 was Group 5, Ms. Tarnawa first looked at the staffing needs for
that group. Group 5 needed four employees in the Bar Mill Production
department only. Based upon the demand at that time for hand
grinding, all four of the employees needed for Bar Mill Production had
to be able to perform the hand grinding function. Because of her work
restriction, [plaintiff] was not eligible to work in the Bar Mill
Production department at this time.
As such, Ms. Tarnawa then looked at the staffing needs for Group 4
which was [plaintiff’s] second group preference. Group 4 needed one
employee in the Main Plant Maintenance department, one employee
in ViC Grinding and one Janitor. The two employees senior to Ms.
DiFillippo in Group 4 were James Perri (Clock No. 524000), who is
permanently assigned to the Janitorial department, and Kyle Thurston
(Clock No. 527300), who also had a hand grinding restriction.
Accordingly, the only position available in Group 4 for [plaintiff] for
the week of April 28, 2008 was the ViC Grinding position which she
could not perform because of her hand grinding restriction.
As such, Ms. Tarnawa then looked at the staffing needs for Group 6
which was [plaintiff’s] third group preference. Group 6 needed a total
of ten employees which included: four in Bar Mill Production, one in
Bar Mill Maintenance; two in Main Plant Maintenance; one in Main
Plant Production; one in ViC Grinding and one in Janitorial. Of the ten
employees in Group 6 for the week of April 28, 2008, [plaintiff] was
the least senior and, based upon her seniority, she was assigned to the
Janitorial department for that week.
Plaintiff contends in her response to defendants’ Statement of Material Facts that contrary to Ms.
Tarnawa’s statement concerning the reason for changing plaintiff’s placement, she was assigned
to the Janitorial department after she was involved in an “incident” with defendant Marecek. To
wit, she claims that after she dropped a billet on the floor, Marecek screamed at and berated her.
However, it is undisputed that the reassignment to the Janitorial department occurred on April 28,
2008, and the “incident” with Marecek did not occur until one month later, on May 28, 2008.
Plaintiff worked in the Janitorial department for a single week. During that week, plaintiff
made $ 1.30 less per hour for regular time and $1.95 less per hour for overtime compared to what
she would have earned had she been assigned to one of the other Plant Utility departments. On
April 30, 2008, plaintiff's physician submitted a Return to Work Slip to Special Metals stating
that plaintiff "may return to work on 04/30/2008 with the following restrictions: none. Linda may
use the hand grinder for work." Plaintiff asserts that she was forced to obtain this release of work
restrictions from her doctor because defendant Marecek told her that if she did not have her hand
grinding restriction lifted she would lose her job. On May 5, 2008, pursuant to the "manning"
process based upon her seniority and group preference, Ms. DiFillippo resumed work in the Plant
Utility position assigned to the Bar Mill Production department.
Pursuant to the Agreement, plaintiff had the right to bring any perceived errors in her
group assignment through the "manning" process to the Human Resources Department. Pursuant
to the Agreement, plaintiff could grieve her assignment to a particular group or department
through the Grievance Procedure set forth in Article VIII of the Agreement. Plaintiff never
brought any alleged errors in her group assignment through the "manning" process to the Human
Resources Department and never filed a grievance with respect to her assignment to a particular
group or department within Plant Utility.
As referenced above, plaintiff dropped a billet on May 28, 2008, which weighed
approximately 700 - 800 pounds, onto the floor while attempting to move billets from the 13-inch
saw table, located in the Bar Mill. The accident occurred at 7:20 a.m., right before the end of the
shift. Plaintiff was attempting to secure a load of billets on the 13-inch saw table with an
overhead crane and, when she lifted up the crane, one of the billets fell off of the saw table and
landed on the floor. Defendant Marecek was in the area of the Bar Mill where the billet fell. he
asserts that he went over to plaintiff to ask her what had happened. Plaintiff alleges that Marecek
“went beserk” on her, going “crazy” and “scream[ing] at her” in front of her co-workers. Shortly
after Mr. Marecek approached plaintiff, she left the scene of the incident to get union
representation. When plaintiff returned to the scene with a union representative, defendants claim
that a discussion took place about how and why the billet fell. Plaintiff asserts that Marecek
attempted to “humiliate” her by “recreat[ing] the accident. At 7:50 a.m., plaintiff left the scene
and punched out of work at 7:51 a.m.. She asserts that she was so overwrought with anxiety
following the confrontation with Marecek that she was unable to complete a four hour overtime
Plaintiff requested a medical leave from work on June 9, 2008, at the suggestion of her
doctor due to an “anxiety disorder” and “panic attacks” allegedly brought on by being
“harass[ed]” by Marecek. Special Metals granted plaintiff’s request and she remained on sick
leave until December 8, 2008, when she returned to work in the same position in the Bar Mill
Production department that she occupied before her sick leave. Plaintiff worked in that position
until February 2, 2009, when she was laid off again along with 41 other employees at the New
Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination (the "Charge") with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on August 14, 2008. In the Charge, plaintiff alleged the
I am an individual with a disability covered under the provisions of the
Americans with Disabilities Act. I began working for the abovenamed Respondent on or about August 5, 2005. My current/recent
position with the Respondent was a Grinder in the Utility Department.
In or around February 28, 2006, I sustained a work related injury. As
a result, a no grinding restriction was imposed on my by my attending
physician. I was able to work with this restriction for almost 2 years,
until I was laid off.
On or about March 30, 2008, when I returned from having been laid
off, I was denied a return to my normal duties, being placed in
maintenance and then janitor. I was also informed by the foreman of
Utility that I would not be allowed to work in Utility, unless my
restriction was lifted.
Although I voluntarily had the restriction removed, I was forced to
have it reinstated because it exacerbated my condition. Upon
information and belief, male employees have been allowed to work in
Utility with restrictions similar to my own.
Additionally, from on or about March 30, 2008, through on or about
May 18, 2008, Respondent failed to pay me the prevailing wages for
the jobs that I had been assigned, as per the Collective Bargaining
On or about May 28, 2008, I was the target of a verbal tirade at the
hands of the foreman, in front of my peers. Because of the
harassment, I was forced to disability leave.
I believe I have been harassed, intimidated and subjected to a hostile
work environment, denied a reasonable accommodation, and subjected
to different terms and conditions of employment because of my
disability and gender, in violation fo the Americans with Disability
Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
In the Charge, the box entitled “Discrimination Based on” indicated plaintiff was alleging she was
discriminated against on the basis of her sex and disability. In her “Intake Questionnaire,” dated
June 18, 2008, however, plaintiff had also checked the box indicating discrimination based on
retaliation. In a letter to EEOC dated July 2, 2008, plaintiff also indicated she had been treated
differently from fellow employees in being denied safety equipment including work boots and
properly fitting gloves.
EEOC investigated the Charge and on October 16, 2008, the agency sent a letter to
plaintiff stating that Special Metals had met its burden of proving a nondiscriminatory defense to
the allegations contained in the Charge. The EEOC directed plaintiff to provide additional
information by November 7, 2008, establishing that the Company's asserted defenses were
"pretextual" and disguised to cover up discrimination. Plaintiff never provided this information to
the EEOC. Plaintiff’s counsel asserts that plaintiff’s failure to provide the requested information
is irrelevant since she had requested a “Right to Sue” letter from EEOC on December 18, 2008,
prior to the agency completing it’s investigation. EEOC mailed plaintiff a “Right to Sue” notice
on February 23, 2009.
Plaintiff filed the present action by service of a Summons with Notice on May 26, 2009, in
Oneida County Supreme Court whereupon defendants removed the case to this Court. The
complaint alleged that plaintiff suffered damages due to defendants’ discriminatory and
retaliatory policies. Specifically, plaintiff asserted:
Such acts and policies are illegally imposed on the Plaintiff by the
Defendants employing and endorsing practices and policy which
subjects women to greater scrutiny in their employment and treats
women as second class citizens and disparately excludes women and
disabled women from certain traditionally male assignments, positions
of visibility, authority and power, and denies women and disabled
women assignments, equipment, and accommodations which lead to
equal supervisory and management opportunities. Denying women
access to work equipment and assignments leads to lower regard,
lower pay and fewer benefits for all women.
In addition, plaintiff alleged in her complaint that defendants 1) “subject women to stricter
scrutiny and application of guidelines in the use of sick time, workplace injury, assignments, and
conduct;” and 2) “subject females to higher standards of performance and adherence to rules and
regulations while excusing men from the same standards of behavior.”
With respect to defendant Marecek, plaintiff claims that Marecek subjected her to
disparate treatment under the ADA, Title VII and the NYHRL when he prohibited plaintiff from
working in her department due to her sex and/or disability on March 30, 2008, even though male
employees were routinely accommodated and/or allowed modified or restricted duties and
assignments due to injury or disability. Plaintiff also asserts that defendant Marecek subjected
her to a hostile work environment under the ADA, Title VII and the NYHRL when he yelled,
screamed at and humiliated plaintiff for approximately 40 minutes on the floor in front of her co11
workers. In her seventh cause of action, plaintiff asserts that Marecek’s “extreme, outrageous,
intentional and/or reckless” conduct amounts to an intentional tort. The eighth cause of action
alleges that defendants breached plaintiff’s employment contract by subjecting her to
discriminatory treatment. Finally, in her ninth claim, plaintiff alleges that defendants subjected
her to “retaliation for requesting accommodation and for requesting suitable and appropriate gear
equal to her male counterparts.” To wit, the complaint asserts defendants “refused to provide
Plaintiff with equal and suitably safe work gear and instead took away her accommodation for her
disability and subjected her to a hostile work environment.”
Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Substantive
law determines which facts are material; that is, which facts might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 258 (1986).
Irrelevant or unnecessary facts do not preclude summary judgment, even when they are in
dispute. See id. The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine
issue of material fact to be decided. See Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). With
respect to any issue on which the moving party does not bear the burden of proof, it may meet its
burden on summary judgment by showing that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party’s case. See id. at 325. Once the movant meets this initial burden, the
nonmoving party must demonstrate that there is a genuine unresolved issue for trial. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(e).
Although the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of
that party against whom summary judgment is sought, see Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank,
865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir. 1989); Eastway Constr. Corp. v. City of New York, 762 F.2d 243, 249
(2d Cir. 1985), the motion will not be defeated by a non-movant who raises merely "metaphysical
doubt" concerning the facts or who only offers conjecture or surmise. See Delaware & H. R. Co.
v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 178 (2d Cir. 1990) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). Indeed, the nonmoving party’s opposition
may not rest on mere denials of the moving party’s pleading, but "must set forth specific facts
showing there is a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).
With respect to summary judgment in employment discrimination cases, courts have
acknowledged “direct evidence of . . . discriminatory intent will rarely be found.” Schwapp v.
Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1997) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Thus, “affidavits and depositions must be carefully scrutinized for circumstantial proof which, if
believed, would show discrimination.” Id. A plaintiff must, however, provide more than
conclusory allegations of discrimination to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See id.
The standard for granting summary judgment mirrors the directed verdict standard under Rule
50(a) which requires the court to grant a directed verdict where there can be but one reasonable
conclusion. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. "It is a gratuitous cruelty to parties and their
witnesses to put them through the ordeal of a trial when the outcome is foreordained." See Mason
v. Continental Ill. Nat’l Bank, 704 F.2d 361, 367 (7th Cir. 1983). It is with these considerations
in mind that the Court addresses defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Claims Against Individual Defendants
Defendants seek dismissal of the Title VII claims against defendant Marecek on the
ground that the statute applies as a matter of law only to “employers” and not individual
defendants. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b); Tomka v. Seiler Corp., 66 F.3d 1295, 1313 (2d Cir. 1995).
Likewise, Plaintiff's ADA claims against Marecek individually are not cognizable. “[N]either
Title II of the ADA nor § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides for individual capacity suits....”
Garcia v. State Univ. of N.Y. Health Scis. Ctr., 280 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir. 2001); see also Walker
v. Snyder, 213 F.3d 344, 346 (7th Cir. 2000) (“[i]n suits under Title II of the ADA, as under many
other federal anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII and the ADEA, the proper defendant
usually is an organization rather than a natural person.”).
Disability Discrimination under the ADA and NYHRL
The ADA prohibits discrimination by covered entities, including private employers,
against "qualified" individuals with a disability. Specifically, it provides that no "covered"
employer shall "discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the
disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or
discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and
privileges of employment." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). A "qualified individual with a disability" is
identified as "an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can
perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires."
42 U.S.C. § 12111(8). In turn, a "disability" is defined as: "(A) a physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of
such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2).
Accordingly, to fall within this definition one must have an actual disability, a record of a
disability, or be regarded as having one.1 The ADA defines “major life activities” to include
Subsequent to passage of the ADA, EEOC issued regulations to provide additional guidance regarding the proper
interpretation of the term "disability." The regulations define the three elements of disability: (1) "physical or
mental impairment," (2) "substantially limits," and (3) "major life activities." 29 C.F.R. §§ 1630.2(h)-(j) (1998).
Under the regulations, a "physical impairment" includes "[a]ny physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic
disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological,
musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive,
digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine." Id. at § 1630.2(h)(1). The term
"substantially limits" means, among other things, "[u]nable to perform a major life activity that the average
person in the general population can perform;" or "[s]ignificantly restricted as to the condition, manner or
duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition,
manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life
“caring for oneself,” as well as “thinking, communicating, and working.” Id. at § 12102(2)(A).
However, “[m]erely having an impairment does not make one disabled for purposes of the ADA.”
Toyota Motor Mfg. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184, 195 (2002).2
Burden of Proof
In McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), the Supreme Court
established the framework for analyzing employment discrimination claims. Although
McDonnell Douglas involved a race discrimination claim brought under Title VII, courts have
applied the same framework to disability discrimination claims brought under the ADA and the
NYHRL. See, Platt v. Inc. Vill. of Southampton, 391 Fed. Appx. 62, 64 n. 1 (2d Cir. 2010);
Reeves v. Johnson Controls World Servs., 140 F.3d 144, 156 n. 9 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation
omitted). Under the McDonnell Douglas framework, a plaintiff must carry the initial burden of
establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. See 411 U.S. at 802. If the plaintiff succeeds in
establishing a prima facie case, the defendant employer must then articulate “some legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason” for the alleged adverse employment decision. Id. If the defendant
employer articulates a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the purported unlawful action, the
activity." Id. at § 1630.2(j). Finally, "[m]ajor [l]ife [a]ctivities means functions such as caring for oneself,
performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working." Id. at §
Williams has been expressly superseded by an intervening act of Congress. See ADA Amendments Act of 2008,
Pub.L. No. 110-325, 112 Stat. 3353 (2008). The ADA amendments expanded significantly the definition of what
constitutes a “disability” under the Act. However, there is no indication that Congress intended the ADA
Amendments to have retroactive effect. See Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales, 548 U.S. 30, 37 (2006) (noting “a
statute shall not be given retroactive effect unless such construction is required by explicit language or by
necessary implication”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, this Court relies on the ADA as it
existed at the time of the relevant events which, according to plaintiff’s complaint, was in 2008. See, e.g., White
v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 07-CV-4286, 2009 WL 1140434, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 27, 2009); Geoghan v.
Long Island R.R., No. 06-CV-1435, 2009 WL 982451, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 9, 2009); Kravar v. Triangle Servs.,
No. 06-CV-7858, 2009 WL 805807, at *4 n. 3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2009) (“[T]his Court joins other courts that
have held that the Amendments Act’s definition of “disability” does not apply to conduct that occurred before
January 1, 2009.”); Moran v. Premier Educ. Group, L.P., 599 F.Supp.2d 263, 271 (D.Conn. 2009); Levy v.
Hustedt Chevrolet, No. 05-CV-4832, 2008 WL 5273927, at *3 n. 2 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2008); Gibbon v. City of
New York, No. 07-CV-6698, 2008 WL 5068966, at *5 n. 47 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 25, 2008). Plaintiff asserts that the
Court should use the new and expanded definition of “disability” as it appears in the ADA Amendments based
on the fact that “defendants’ adverse employment actions continued well past January 1, 2009.” However, the
Court notes that the complaint has not been amended to include any alleged unlawful acts past May 28, 2008.
plaintiff is then afforded a fair opportunity to show that the employer’s stated reason for the
adverse employment action was in fact pretext for discrimination. Id. at 804.
To state a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must demonstrate
that: 1) he or she suffers from a disability within the meaning of the ADA; 2) that he or she was
otherwise qualified to perform his or her job or a job he or she was applying for; and 3) that he or
she was not hired for the job, was discharged or suffered some other adverse employment action
because of a disability. Wernick v. Fed. Reserve Bank of New York, 91 F.3d 379, 383 (2d Cir.
Plaintiff’s Status as “Disabled” under the ADA
Defendants contend that plaintiff does not have a qualified disability under the ADA. To
qualify as disabled under the ADA, a claimant must show that his or her claimed limitation on a
major life activity is “substantia[l].” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2)(A); Toyota Motor Mfg., 534 U.S. at
“[S]ubstantially” in the phrase “substantially limits” suggests
“considerable” or “to a large degree.” See WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW
INT’L DICTIONARY 2280 (1976) (defining “substantially” as “in a
substantial manner” and “substantial” as “considerable in amount,
value, or worth” and “being that specified to a large degree or in the
main”); see also 17 OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 66–67 (2d
ed.1989) ( “substantial”: “[r]elating to or proceeding from the essence
of a thing; essential”; “[o]f ample or considerable amount, quantity, or
dimensions”). The word “substantial” thus clearly precludes
impairments that interfere in only a minor way with the performance
of manual tasks from qualifying as disabilities. ...
“Major” in the phrase “major life activities” means important. See
WEBSTER'S, supra, at 1363 (defining “major” as “greater in dignity,
rank, importance, or interest”). “Major life activities” thus refers to
those activities that are of central importance to daily life. In order for
performing manual tasks to fit into this category—a category that
includes such basic abilities as walking, seeing, and hearing—the
manual tasks in question must be central to daily life. If each of the
tasks included in the major life activity of performing manual tasks
does not independently qualify as a major life activity, then together
they must do so.
Id. at 196-97. “That these terms need to be interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for
qualifying as disabled is confirmed by the first section of the ADA, which lays out the legislative
findings and purposes that motivate the Act.” Id. at 197 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12101). Indeed, the
Supreme Court noted that “[w]hen it enacted the ADA in 1990, Congress found that ‘some
43,000,000 Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities.’” Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. §
12101(a)(1)). “If Congress intended everyone with a physical impairment that precluded the
performance of some isolated, unimportant, or particularly difficult manual task to qualify as
disabled, the number of disabled Americans would surely have been much higher.” Id. (citation
In the instant case, plaintiff alleges that the injury she sustained in 2006 to her left hand
causes her to be "disabled" pursuant to the ADA. In response to interrogatories which asked
plaintiff to “(i)dentify the basis for your allegation in Paragraph 10 of the Complaint that you
‘suffered from a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act,’” plaintiff
Plaintiff suffered a work-related hand injury in 2006 which has left her
with 55% permanent loss of use of her left small finger, 55%
permanent loss of use of her left index finger, and 5% loss of use of
her left long finger. As a result of said loss, Plaintiff’s ability to
properly and safely grasp items, lift items, and open containers has
been limited. Plaintiff can no longer crochet and knit as she did prior
to her and injury and experiences difficulty cooking meals and
grasping the steering wheel while driving.
Further, during her deposition, plaintiff testified that the injury to her left hand: 1) prevents her
from picking up a frying pan, but not from cooking; 2) prevents her from crocheting or
cross-stitching; 3) requires that she use one finger to type; 4) requires that she drive with her right
hand, but does not prevent her from driving; 5) prevents her from holding the clutch on the lawn
mower and holding a weed whacker; and 6) prevents her from pulling laundry out of a
front-loading machine. In terms of her ability to perform her duties at work, plaintiff testified that
she has a “difficult time” lifting standards, the machines that are used to sound check for
deviations or cracks in manufactured material. Plaintiff also stated that due to her injury, she has
“difficulty” lifting slices, the material sent to the etching area or to the plate saw for quality
testing. It is also undisputed that plaintiff was, during most of the time relevant to this litigation,
restricted from jobs that required her to perform hand grinding.
EEOC regulations also give guidance for determining whether an individual is
substantially limited in the major life activity of “working.” The ability to work is substantially
limited (among other indicia) if the plaintiff is “significantly restricted in the ability to perform
either a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs in various classes as compared to the average person
having comparable training, skills and abilities.” 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(3)(i). The regulations
make clear that “the inability to perform in a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial
limitation in the major life activity of working.” Id. Here, there is no evidence that plaintiff was
prevented from performing any jobs outside of those that required hand grinding. According to
defendants, hand grinding was a function of one part of the Plant Utility job when an employee
was assigned to the Bar Mill Production and Main Plant Production Departments. Plaintiff
acknowledged that she could perform the tasks in all of the other departments comprising the
Plant Utility position, even if she had “difficulty” with some of them. Since plaintiff was able to
perform all of the functions of her own job except for hand grinding, she cannot establish that her
left hand disability placed a significant restriction on her ability to perform an entire class of jobs
or a broad range of jobs in various classes as required for establishing she is substantially limited
in the major life activity of working under the ADA. See 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(3)(I); see also
Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471, 492 (1999).
“To be substantially limited in performing manual tasks, an individual must have an
impairment that prevents or severely restricts the individual from doing activities that are of
central importance to most people's daily lives.” Toyota Mfg., 534 US. at 198. The impairment's
impact must also be permanent or long term. See id.; see also 29 C.F.R. §§ 1630.2(j)(2)(ii)-(iii)
(2001). In Toyota Mfg., the plaintiff, though unable to do repetitive work with her hands and
arms extended at or above shoulder levels for extended periods of time, was still able to tend to
her personal hygiene and carry out personal and household chores. Specifically, the district court
noted in Toyota Mfg. that at the time plaintiff sought an accommodation from defendant, she
admitted that she was able to do the manual tasks required by her original two jobs at the plant.
See 534 U.S. at 201. In addition, according to plaintiff’s deposition testimony, even after her
condition worsened, she could still brush her teeth, wash her face, bathe, tend her flower garden,
fix breakfast, do laundry, and pick up around the house. See id. The record also indicated that
her medical conditions caused her to avoid sweeping, to quit dancing, to occasionally seek help
dressing, and to reduce how often she played with her children, gardened, and drove long
distances. See id. The Supreme Court noted that these changes in her life “did not amount to
such severe restrictions in the activities that are of central importance to most people's daily lives
that they establish a manual task disability as a matter of law.” 534 U.S. at 202.
In the present case, the Court finds that likewise, plaintiff Defillippo’s ability to perform
manual tasks does not amount to a substantial impairment of a major life activity. She is still able
to cook, drive, type and care for herself and her family. The limited tasks she is unable to do are
not the type of activities that are of “central importance to people’s daily lives.” Id.
Plaintiff also attempts to rely on the fact that it was medically determined that she has a
permanent partial disability in some of the fingers of her left hand to attain disability status under
the ADA. However, “it is insufficient for individuals attempting to prove disability status under
this test ... merely [to] submit evidence of a medical diagnosis of an impairment.” Toyota Motor
Mfg., 534 U.S. at 197.
As a further matter, plaintiff alleges for the first time in her opposition to defendants’
motion for summary judgment that not only was she disabled under the ADA, but that defendants
unlawfully “regarded” her as disabled under the ADA as well. Defendants are correct when they
argue that these claims are legally inconsistent. One cannot be both disabled and regarded as
disabled under the ADA at the same time since it is necessary that one have a recognized
disability for the former claim and that a litigant be unlawfully treated as disabled when he or she
is not for the latter type of claim. See Giordano v. City of New York, 274 F. 3d 740, 748 (2d Cir.
2001) (an employee can be “regarded as” disabled in two ways: “(1) a covered entity mistakenly
believes that a person has a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities, or (2) a covered entity mistakenly believes that an actual, nonlimiting impairment
substantially limits one or more major life activities.”) This new claim must fail because it was
never raised before the EEOC or at any time before now in the litigation. Plaintiff cannot wait
until defendants file their motion for summary judgment to introduce an entirely new and legally
inconsistent theory of liability in this case.
Because plaintiff has failed to rebut defendants’ proof that her alleged disability does not
substantially limit a major life activity, she has failed to establish that she had a disability within
the meaning of the ADA. Consequently she has failed to establish a prima facie case of disability
employment discrimination under the ADA and her claims must be dismissed. Her disability
discrimination claims under the NYHRL, however, remain intact.3
Defendants assert that plaintiff does not oppose dismissal of either of her NYHRL claims in her opposition
papers - that is , her claims that defendants failed to accommodate her disability and that she was discriminated
against “because of’ a disability.” The Court disagrees. As to the latter claim, plaintiff specifically argues correctly - that the NYHRL does not require her to demonstrate that her disability substantially limits a major life
activity as in the case of the ADA. With respect to the former, although plaintiff does not expressly oppose
dismissal of the claim, she does reference defendant’s failure to allow her to use a specially ordered piece of
equipment, i.e., a light weight hand grinding tool, that would have accommodated her hand grinding limitation.
Thus, the Court is hesitant to dismiss both of plaintiff’s NYHRL claims at this juncture.
Title VII Claims
Plaintiff asserts that she has been denied “benefits and privileges afforded to male
employees in same or similar circumstances because of her sex.” In analyzing plaintiff’s claims
of gender discrimination under Title VII, the Court is obligated once again to review the record
under the familiar burden-shifting analysis set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
U.S. 792. As referenced above, the first step in the McDonnell Douglas formulation requires a
plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, a prima facie case of discrimination or
unlawful retaliation by the employer. See Bickerstaff v. Vassar Coll., 196 F.3d 435, 446-47 (2d
Cir. 1999). If plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden of production shifts to the
employer to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions. Id. at 446. In the
third step of the McDonnell Douglas process, the burden then shifts back to plaintiff to
demonstrate that the proffered reason was not the true reason for the employment decision, and
that discrimination was the true reason. See id.
To establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination under Title VII and the NYHRL,
plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) she belongs to a protected class; (2) she was qualified for her
position and/or was performing her duties satisfactorily; (3) she suffered an adverse employment
action; and (4) the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an
inference of discrimination on the basis of her membership in that class. Feingold v. New York,
366 F.3d 138, 152 (2d Cir. 2004). It is undisputed that plaintiff is female and therefore is a
member of a protected class. Plaintiff asserted in the complaint that she was demoted by being
assigned to the Janitorial Department for one week where she earned $1.30 less per hour in
regular wages and $1.95 less per hour in overtime wages.
With respect to plaintiff’s one week placement in the Janitorial Department, defendants
contend that plaintiff was placed in that Department based on the manning process, plaintiff’s
seniority, the seniority of her fellow workers, her work restrictions as well as the work restrictions
of her fellow employees. The Court notes that the Janitorial Department is still part of the one of
the Plant Utility Departments and is therefore not technically a demotion but a lateral move
within the Department. Moreover, plaintiff selected the Janitorial Department as her third group
preference out of a total of seven possible work areas. It is undisputed that Kyle Thurston who
filled the last slot in the Main Plant Maintenance Department had more seniority than plaintiff.
The Court finds that plaintiff’s placement for one week in the Janitorial Department, a group
preference she selected as her third choice out of seven, is not an adverse employment action.
However, even assuming that it is an adverse employment action, defendants have presented
evidence that plaintiff’s placement in this Department was based solely on the manning process
which involved an assessment of plaintiff’s seniority and work restrictions. This has more than
satisfied defendant’s burden to present a non-discriminatory reason for its actions in placing her
in the Janitorial Department for one week. Plaintiff has failed to present evidence that this reason
is a pretext for discrimination.
Plaintiff also alleged in her complaint that defendant Marecek also demanded that she
have her hand grinding restriction lifted or she would not be allowed to return to the Bar Mill
Production Department while male employees with similar medical restrictions were allowed to
work without any problem or interference. However, the “evidence” submitted by plaintiff in
support of this claim is wholly conclusory. She states that it was “well known that Marecek did
not like her and did not subject male employees to the same disrespect. However, plaintiff does
not provide the name or factual circumstances of any male employee who is alleged to have
gotten special consideration by Marecek. Rather, plaintiff relies solely on the deposition
testimony of her co-worker, Debra Bader, who testified that Marecek “hated” plaintiff, but Bader
provides no details of Marecek’s alleged hatred of plaintiff other than stating it was “common
knowledge on the floor” and was “the talk of the bar mill.” Bader further testified that Marecek
“was going to go out of his way to do something about [plaintiff.]”
Bader stated that she saw Marecek go “beserk” on plaintiff after she dropped the billet.
She said Marecek went “crazy” and “scream[ed]” at plaintiff in front of a group of people,
“go[ing] up one side of [her] and down the other.” Bader said his manner toward plaintiff was
very demeaning. Even assuming the truth of Bader’s claims, they establish at most, that Marecek
did not like plaintiff and that they may have had an unpleasant working relationship. There is
nothing in Bader’s statements which establish that Marecek’s words or actions towards plaintiff
were based on animus based on her sex or that he treated her differently than male employees
because she was a woman. The Court notes that the record may support a claim that plaintiff’s
work environment was stressful and unpleasant, crediting her allegation that Marecek was “out to
get her” and made a spectacle out of her on the occasion when she dropped the billet. However,
there is no indication that this alleged abuse was based on plaintiff’s sex. As recently stated by a
fellow district judge in a similar case, Title VII does not “prohibit employment decisions based
on personal animosity or a poor working relationship. . . . [the] statute is [not] ‘a civility code ...
making actionable the ordinary tribulations of the workplace.’” Westerman v. General Nutrition
Corp., 2007 WL 320796, *5 (W.D. Pa. January 30, 2007) (citing Gharzouzi v. Northwestern
Human Servs. of Pa., 225 F.Supp.2d 514, 534 (E.D. Pa . 2002) and Davis v. City of Lake Park,
Fla., 245 F.3d 1232, 1238 (11th Cir.2001)).
Plaintiff also alleges in her complaint that she was denied safety equipment such as boots
and gloves that were routinely provided to men. However, plaintiff has not directed the Court to
the identities of any male employees who were provided specific equipment that she was denied.
Plaintiff’s counsel has attached a list of employee names with codes that seem to correspond with
safety equipment purchased by the company, but these records, standing alone, prove nothing
insofar as plaintiff’s claim that she was denied equipment while men were not. As a further
matter, plaintiff expressly acknowledged during her deposition that supervisor Joe Mack
measured her hands and ordered safety gloves for her that fit her hands
The Court finds that plaintiff has failed to support her allegations of disparate treatment
and/or gender discrimination under Title VII and the NYHRL with evidence in admissible form.
Thus these claims against defendants must be dismissed.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment claim requires a showing that the workplace was so severely
permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that the terms and conditions of
her employment were thereby altered so as to create an abusive working environment. See Perry
v. Ethan Allen, Inc., 115 F.3d 143, 149 (2d Cir. 1997). Whether a work environment is
sufficiently abusive to be actionable under Title VII depends on all of the circumstances of a
given situation, including “the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is
physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably
interferes with an employee's work performance.” Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23
(1993). As a general rule, incidents “must be more than episodic; they must be sufficiently
continuous and concerted in order to be deemed pervasive.” Perry, 115 F.3d at 149 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). Isolated acts, unless very serious, do not meet the threshold of
severity or pervasiveness. See Brennan v. Metropolitan Opera Ass’n, Inc., 192 F.3d 310, 318 (2d
Cir. 1999); Quinn v. Greentree Credit Corp., 159 F.3d 759, 768 (2d Cir. 1998).
In the present case, plaintiff has presented evidence of only one incident between she and
Marecek where she was allegedly berated for dropping a billet on the floor. Assuming that the
incident occurred as alleged by plaintiff, the Court notes as referenced above that there is no
evidence that this incident had anything do to with plaintiff’s sex. Even taking into account the
hostile unpleasant nature of the encounter between plaintiff and Marecek, there is nothing about
Marecek’s words or actions that suggests he was yelling at plaintiff or making an example of her
based on her sex. Indeed, if Debra Bader is to be taken at her word, Marecek simply did not like
plaintiff and there is no evidence that his dislike of her was based on her gender. After review of
the entire record, the Court finds no evidence to support plaintiff’s claim that she suffered from a
hostile work environment created by defendants. Consequently, these claims under Title VII and
the NYHRL must be dismissed.
Plaintiff raises a number of new retaliation claims in response to defendants’ motion for
summary judgment. First, plaintiff contends that she complained to defendant Marecek that she
was being sexually harassed by a fellow employee Brian Allen and that he retaliated against her
for reporting the sexual harassment by pulling her from driving a tractor at the plant. Secondly,
plaintiff makes a vague assertion that she suffered from retaliation based on a hostile work
environment. The Court notes that even assuming the truth of plaintiff’s allegations regarding
Brian Allen, she did not raise these allegations before the EEOC. See Butts v. City of New York,
990 F. 2d 1397, 1401 (2d Cir. 1993) (A district court only has jurisdiction to hear Title VII claims
that either are included in an EEOC charge or are based on conduct subsequent to the EEOC
charge which is “reasonably related” to that alleged in the EEOC charge). This exhaustion
requirement is an essential element of Title VII's statutory scheme. Id. As the Second Circuit
noted in Miller v. International Tel. & Tel., 755 F.2d 20, 26 (2d Cir. 1985), with respect to an
analogous EEOC charge requirement in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,“[t]he
purpose of the notice provision, which is to encourage settlement of discrimination disputes
through conciliation and voluntary compliance, would be defeated if a complainant could litigate
a claim not previously presented to and investigated by the EEOC.” See also Stewart v. United
States Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 762 F.2d 193, 198 (2d Cir.1985) (“the purpose of
the [Title VII] exhaustion requirement ... is to give the administrative agency the opportunity to
investigate, mediate, and take remedial action ...”).
The Second Circuit recognizes three kinds of situations where claims not alleged in an
EEOC charge are sufficiently related to the allegations in the charge that it would be unfair to
civil rights plaintiffs to bar such claims in a civil action. See Butts, 990 F. 2d at 1402. The
Circuit loosely refers to these claims as “reasonably related” to the allegations in an EEOC
charge. See id. While the three are each animated by the common notion of fairness to civil
rights litigants, their “reasonableness” derives from separate rationales. See id.:
The first type of “reasonably related” claim we have recognized is
essentially an allowance of loose pleading. Recognizing that EEOC
charges frequently are filled out by employees without the benefit of
counsel and that their primary purpose is to alert the EEOC to the
discrimination that a plaintiff claims she is suffering, we have allowed
claims not raised in the charge to be brought in a civil action where the
conduct complained of would fall within the “scope of the EEOC
investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the
charge of discrimination.”
Id. The second type of “reasonably related” claim is one alleging retaliation by an employer
against an employee for filing an EEOC charge. See id. The third type of reasonably related
claim is where a plaintiff alleges further incidents of discrimination carried out in precisely the
same manner alleged in the EEOC charge.
In the present case, plaintiff’s allegation that she was sexually harassed by Brian Allen
does not fall into any of the above categories of reasonably related categories. Plaintiff’s
administrative complaint to the EEOC referenced the fact that she was discriminated against on
the basis on her alleged disability. She stated she was treated differently from male employees
because she was denied safety equipment and that her supervisor, defendant Marecek, berated her
in front of her fellow employees for dropping a billet on the floor. There is nothing about these
allegations that is connected or related to the claim that she was sexually harassed by Brian Allen
and then retaliated against for complaining about the harassment. Based thereupon, the Court
finds that plaintiff’s retaliation claim based on alleged sexual harassment by Brian Allen must be
Insofar as plaintiff’s assertion that she suffered from a “retaliatory based hostile work
environment,” the Court is not even sure what she means by this allegation since she provides no
facts or evidence in support of this new claim. In any event, as referenced above, the claim was
not presented to the EEOC, or for that matter, raised at any time prior to filing opposing papers to
defendants’ motion. For these reasons, plaintiff’s claim of retaliation based on a hostile work
environment must be dismissed.
Breach of Contract
It is undisputed that plaintiff was a member of a collective bargaining unit and had a
grievance procedure for addressing any alleged violations of the agreement between her union
and Special Metals. Short of demonstrating the existence of a separate contract between she and
Special Metals that provided a different or separate agreement for resolving disputes, her breach
of contract claim must be dismissed.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
As argued by defendants, plaintiff’s claim for intentional tort against defendant Marecek
arising from the incident wherein he allegedly berated her verbally in front of her co-workers for
dropping the billet is untimely. The incident occurred on May 28, 2008. Plaintiff commenced the
present action on July 28, 2009, more than one year after the incident occurred. Given New
York’s statute of limitations of one year for intentional torts, see N.Y. Civ. Prac. L & R § 215, the
claim is untimely and must be dismissed.
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to raise a triable issue with
respect to any of her federal employment discrimination claims and all but two of her state
employment discrimination claims. Because the Court elects to dismiss all of the federal claims
in the complaint, the Court will not exercise its supplemental jurisdiction to address plaintiff’s
remaining state law claims. Consequently it is hereby
ORDERED that defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Dkt # 24) dismissing
plaintiff’s complaint is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims pursuant to the ADA and
TITLE VII are dismissed with prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff’s breach of contract and intentional tort claims are dismissed
with prejudice; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff’s employment discrimination claims under the NYHRL are
dismissed without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: September 30, 2011
Syracuse, New York
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