Biondolillo v. Livingston Corr. Facility

Decision Date16 February 2023
Docket Number17-CV-6576-FPG
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York




Plaintiff Amy Biondolillo alleges against Defendants Livingston Correctional Facility (LCF), Tamara Kennedy and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”) several violations of federal and state law, including: (1) gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(f) et seq., as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 et seq.; (2) pregnancy discrimination under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(k) et seq., as amended, and the NYSHRL; (3) age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 623, and the NYSHRL; (4) pregnancy related disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., as amended, and the NYSHRL; (5) “other forms of discrimination” under 42 U.S.C § 1983; (6) wrongful termination under Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, and the NYSHRL; (7) common law intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (8) common law negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief; front pay compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages; and attorneys' fees and costs. Id.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 6, 2022. ECF No. 54. On June 3, 2022, Plaintiff responded. ECF No. 57. On July 1, 2022, Defendants replied. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


From June 2016 until December 30, 2016, Plaintiff worked as a registered nurse at Livingston Correctional Facility (LCF), a DOCCS facility, where nursing administrator Tamara Kennedy was her supervisor. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff was 42 years old when her employment at LCF ended. Id. Plaintiff was staffed at LCF through a nursing agency, White Glove Placement, Inc. (“White Glove”). Id.[1]Agency nurses at LCF, like Plaintiff, were supervised and managed by Kennedy. ECF No. 57-1 at 4. While Plaintiff worked at LCF, the nursing staff was comprised of 13 other women-11 of whom were age 40 or older-and two men. Id. Plaintiff's contract with LCF, through White Glove, was set to expire on December 31, 2016. Id. Plaintiff was paid hourly by White Glove for her shifts at LCF. Id. In the approximately six months Plaintiff spent at LCF, Plaintiff's performance appraisals reflected that she demonstrated good clinical skills, but she recorded seven absences and was counseled by Kennedy for performance issues, which included reading the palms of incarcerated individuals and staff, discussing personal information with incarcerated individuals, and, on at least one occasion, providing treatment to a patient without a doctor's orders. ECF No. 57-1 at 8. Full-time DOCCS employees, as compared to agency nurses, are permitted a total of eight absences per year. Id.

At some point during December 2016, Plaintiff learned that she had become pregnant. Id. Plaintiff claims she informed Kennedy of her pregnancy sometime that month before her employment ended on December 30, but Kennedy claims she did not. ECF No. 57-1 at 8. On December 22, 2016, Plaintiff emailed Kennedy to tender her resignation because she had accepted another job with a different nursing agency, stating: “I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity of working here. I have learned a lot of new things from the staff. I will be taking a new position and a new contract starting 01/02/17. I know this places a huge inconvenience on you and the staff, I will be able to help out when I can and fill in some of the holes as my new contract is straight days 6-2. I do apologize that it was short notice however I found out this morning. When I get my new schedule I will be happy to go over it with you and help out here when I can.” Id.; see also ECF No. 54-10 at 1.

On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff was scheduled to begin a shift at 2:00 p.m., but had a doctor's appointment scheduled at 1:00 p.m. Id. at 5. Because her appointment did not begin on time, Plaintiff notified Kennedy that she would be late to her shift and Kennedy indicated that her shift would be considered a “call off,” an absence that required Kennedy to mandate a DOCCS nurse to work a double shift if coverage for the shift was not volunteered. Id. Plaintiff arrived at work at 3:30 p.m. Id. Plaintiff was scheduled to work the next day, December 30, 2016, but does not recall what hours. Id.

On the morning of December 30, 2016, Plaintiff woke with abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. Id. Plaintiff called her doctor and was advised to visit the emergency room. Id. Plaintiff notified the nurses' station at LCF that she may be unable to report to her shift for that reason. Id. Plaintiff informed DOCCS nurse Cheryl Burrows that she would be visiting the emergency room due to problems with her pregnancy. Id. Burrows indicated that she would inform Kennedy. Id. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy called Plaintiff.

Plaintiff alleges that when Kennedy called her, she asked, “What is your problem now?” Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff alleges she informed Kennedy that she was experiencing bleeding as a result of her pregnancy, that she would need to visit the emergency room, and that she would attempt to come in late for part of her shift. Id. at 6. Critically, Plaintiff alleges that Kennedy said “I'm sorry that you're spotting [bleeding] but if you don't come to work, you don't have a job, you know what, this is ridiculous at your age, forget it, you don't have a job[,] then hung up. Id. Kennedy denies making such statements. ECF No. 53-3 at 4. Plaintiff claims she interpreted Kennedy's alleged statements as a termination. ECF No. 57-1 at 6-7. Plaintiff did not report to work for the shift and her timesheets for that week show she was not paid that day. Id.; see ECF No. 54-13 at 26. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that, in September 2016 of that year, she discussed the possibility of becoming a per diem nurse with LCF/DOCCS and intended to become one through her new staffing agency after her departure from White Glove, but allegedly interpreted Kennedy's above statements as a denial of the prospect of such a position. ECF No. 57-1 at 6-7. Plaintiff did not formally apply for such a position after her employment with White Glove ended, nor did Plaintiff apply at any time during her employment with White Glove. Id.

In addition to the allegations related directly to her own claims, Plaintiff brings general allegations that LCF treated female employees differently than male employees, held male employees to less stringent standards, and that Kennedy was “very aggressive toward [Plaintiff] and numerous other female employees.” Id. at ¶¶ 25, 26.

On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action asserting eleven causes of action against Defendants.[2] ECF No. 1.


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a court shall grant summary judgment” if the moving party “shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [it] is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986) ([T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”). “Where the moving party demonstrates ‘the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,' Brown v. Eli Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d 347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323), “the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). [T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law” are “material.” Id. at 248. A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court “is not to weigh the evidence but is instead required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party, and to eschew credibility assessments.” Angulo v. Nassau Cnty., 89 F.Supp.3d 541, 548 (E.D.N.Y. 2015) (quoting another source). “Only when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of evidence is summary judgment proper.” Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991). Indeed, [i]f, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party, summary judgment is improper.” Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 82-83 (2d Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).

But a “mere scintilla of evidence” in favor of the nonmoving party will not defeat summary judgment. Anderson, 477...

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