Hayut v. State University of New York, Docket No. 02-9014.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtCalabresi
Citation352 F.3d 733
Decision Date18 December 2003
Docket NumberDocket No. 02-9014.
PartiesInbal HAYUT, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, State University of New York College at New Paltz, Alex Young, Individually, Richard Varbero, Individually, Gerald Benjamin, Individually, and Lewis Brownstein, Individually, Defendants-Appellees.
352 F.3d 733
Inbal HAYUT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, State University of New York College at New Paltz, Alex Young, Individually, Richard Varbero, Individually, Gerald Benjamin, Individually, and Lewis Brownstein, Individually, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket No. 02-9014.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Argued: April 24, 2003.
Decided: December 18, 2003.

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William Martin, Colin Law Office, White Plains, NY, for Plaintiff-Appellant Inbal Hayut.

Kenneth J. Kelly, Epstein, Becker & Green, P.C., New York, N.Y. (Lauren A. Malanga, on the brief), for Defendant-Appellee Alex Young, individually.

Andrea Oser, Assistant Solicitor General, Office of the State Attorney General, Albany, N.Y. (Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of the State of New York, and Nancy A. Spiegel, Assistant Solicitor General, Office of the State Attorney General, Albany, NY, on the brief), for Defendants-Appellees State University of New York, State University of New York College at New Paltz, Richard Varbero, individually, Gerald Benjamin, individually, and Lewis Brownstein, individually.

Before: CALABRESI and SACK, Circuit Judges.*

CALABRESI, Circuit Judge.


Plaintiff-Appellant Inbal Hayut seeks review of a grant of summary judgment by the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Howard G. Munson, Judge) entered on August 1, 2002, following a Memorandum-Decision and Order entered July 30, 2002, in favor of Defendants-Appellees on Hayut's harassment and discrimination claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the New York Constitution, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq., and common law.

Hayut's claims arise out of what she alleged was a pattern of humiliating and derogatory comments directed at her while she was a student at Defendant-Appellee State University of New York College at New Paltz ("SUNY New Paltz"). Specifically, Hayut's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleges that, during the Fall 1998 semester, her political science professor, Defendant-Appellee Alex Young ("Professor Young"), targeted her with derogatory and sexually-charged comments in violation of her equal protection rights under the United States Constitution. She makes analogous claims under the New York State Constitution. Hayut's Title IX claim against Defendants-Appellees State University of New York system ("SUNY") and SUNY New

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Paltz (collectively, the "SUNY defendants") is predicated upon their employment of Professor Young and specifically alleges the failure of officials at SUNY New Paltz to remedy Young's discrimination.

Hayut's claims against Defendants-Appellees Richard Varbero, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at SUNY New Paltz ("Dean Varbero"), Gerald Benjamin, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at SUNY New Paltz ("Dean Benjamin"), and Lewis Brownstein, a tenured Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at SUNY New Paltz ("Professor Brownstein") (collectively, the "individual defendants"), allege violations of her federal and state equal protection rights based on a respondeat superior theory, on grounds that the individual defendants failed timely and reasonably to respond to her complaints of Professor Young's harassment and that she was singled out by the individual defendants in an effort to hinder the pursuit of her harassment claim. Hayut also asserts a common law tort claim alleging ministerial neglect against the individual defendants.

The district court — rejecting all of Hayut's claims — granted summary judgment to Young, the SUNY defendants, and the individual defendants. For the reasons set forth below, we hold the court properly granted summary judgment to the SUNY defendants and the individual defendants, but erred with respect to Young. Accordingly, we affirm its judgment in part and vacate and remand it in part.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The "Monica" Comments

After completing two years at Rockland Community College ("RCC"), Hayut enrolled at SUNY New Paltz for the 1998-99 academic year. Hayut, a political science major, registered for two courses with Professor Young, a tenured political science professor. Each course met twice weekly during the Fall 1998 semester. According to Hayut, Professor Young's sexual harassment of her began approximately three weeks into the semester. Initially, the harassment consisted of Professor Young referring to Hayut by the nickname "Monica," in light of her supposed physical resemblance to Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern who at that time was attaining notoriety for her involvement in a widely-covered sex scandal with then-President William J. Clinton.

According to the testimony of some witnesses, Hayut initially laughed at the nickname, rolled her eyes, or simply shrugged her shoulders, giving no outward indication that the comments troubled her. However, Young's use of this nickname persisted even after Hayut requested that he stop. Despite her protestations, Professor Young would occasionally, in dramatic fashion, attempt to locate Hayut in the classroom by sitting in front of his desk and screaming the name "Monica." Hayut maintains that the "Monica" comments occurred at least once per class period throughout the rest of the semester and persisted even in her absence.1 Hayut also maintains that, on occasion, Professor Young addressed her as "Monica" outside of class when they happened to pass each other.

Professor Young's conduct was not limited to using the "Monica" nickname, but included other comments as well. These

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added context to the nickname by associating Hayut with some of the more sordid details of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Specifically, Professor Young referred to some of Clinton's and Lewinsky's more notorious conduct, including "[h]ow was your weekend with Bill?," which question Hayut claims he asked virtually every Tuesday morning class session. In addition to this "weekend" comment, Professor Young also told Hayut to "[b]e quiet, Monica. I will give you a cigar later." Hayut testified that the "cigar" comment was uttered twice during the Fall 1998 semester, once in her afternoon class period with Professor Young (after he had observed Hayut talking to another student during a lecture), and the second in the very next morning class session. Finally, Professor Young observed to Hayut, in front of her peers, that "[y]ou are wearing the same color lipstick that Monica wears." Hayut testified in her deposition that these specific comments by Professor Young — particularly the "cigar" comment — evoked shock and disbelief from students in the class.

Hayut also testified during her deposition that, on at least one occasion in the middle of the semester, Professor Young's remarks upset her to the point that she began crying and walked out during his lecture. Hayut did not, however, ever approach Professor Young after class, in the hallway, or in his office to discuss her disapproval of the "Monica" nickname and of his other comments, despite having the opportunity to do so.2

Hayut did not, moreover, report Professor Young's conduct to school officials early in the Fall 1998 semester. She clearly could have done so. Thus, after returning from a two-week absence mid-semester, Hayut met with Professor Brownstein. In addition to serving as Chair of the Political Science department, Professor Brownstein also served as Hayut's academic advisor. During this meeting, Hayut discussed the work she had missed in Professor Brownstein's course. She ultimately decided to withdraw from his class after determining that she would be unable to make up the work. Significantly, Hayut never mentioned Professor Young's conduct to Professor Brownstein at this Fall 1998 meeting.

Hayut maintains that the "Monica" comments affected her deeply, humiliating her in front of her peers, causing her to experience difficulty sleeping, and making it difficult for her to concentrate in school and at work. At times, Hayut feared that new developments in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal would induce Young to come up with a new, off-color comment at her expense and, therefore, she avoided watching the news. Hayut also testified that, despite her protestations, Professor Young's "Monica" references led other students — primarily male — to address her as "Monica" in a ridiculing manner outside of class.

B. Hayut Complains To SUNY New Paltz

In early December 1998, prior to the final exam period, Hayut visited Dean Varbero to complain about Professor Young's conduct. Hayut's friend Merante proposed the meeting with Dean Varbero as Merante wanted to voice numerous complaints of her own about Professor

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Young's teaching style, including his classroom temperament, his alleged unfair treatment of the students, and his "dictatorial" teaching style. During the course of the meeting, Merante mentioned Professor Young's "Monica" statements. Dean Varbero turned to Hayut to inquire and Hayut confirmed that she felt Professor Young had harassed her with the "Monica" comments. Dean Varbero then discussed Hayut's allegations with her for over one hour. He said that, if true, Professor Young's conduct would be viewed by the administration as a serious matter. And he also referred Hayut to Professor Brownstein who, because of his position in Professor Young's immediate chain of command, would have a particular interest in this matter. According to Merante, Dean Varbero specifically instructed Hayut to report Young's conduct to Professor Brownstein. Although this was an informal avenue of redress, Dean Varbero made clear to Hayut that if she was at all dissatisfied with Professor Brownstein's response, she was to report back to Dean Varbero for action. Dean Varbero also indicated that, in accordance with school policy, if Hayut sought more formal action,...

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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 28, 2014
    ...acts, including those giving rise to a hostile work environment.” Patterson, 375 F.3d at 226 (citing Hayut v. State Univ. of New York, 352 F.3d 733, 753–54 (2d Cir.2003)) (additional citation omitted); see also Patterson, 375 F.3d at 230 (“[G]enerally, a public employee acts under color of ......
  • Romero v. City of N.Y., No. 08–CV–2529 (KAM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 17, 2012
    ...sexual harassment] imposes a greater evidentiary burden on a Title IX claimant [than a Title VII claimant].” Hayut v. State Univ. of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 750 (2d Cir.2003). Here, it is undisputed that Richmond Hill's Assistant Principal Himonides and Principal De Sanctis were informed of a p......
  • Bacchus v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., Case No. 12 CV 1663(PKC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 30, 2015
    ...be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].’ " Hayut v. State Univ. of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 743 (2d Cir.2003) (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ) (alterations in original); see also Lyons v. Lancer Ins. Co., 681 ......
  • Ceslik v. Miller Ford, Inc., Civil No. 3:04CV2045(AWT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • September 30, 2008
    ...and abusive" to survive summary judgment. Demoret v. Zegarelli, 451 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir.2006) (quoting Hayut v. State Univ. Of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 745 (2d If the plaintiff's co-workers were responsible for the conduct constituting Page 444 the hostile work environment, the employer will o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
740 cases
  • St. Juste v. Metro Plus Health Plan, No. 10–CV–4729 (MKB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 28, 2014
    ...acts, including those giving rise to a hostile work environment.” Patterson, 375 F.3d at 226 (citing Hayut v. State Univ. of New York, 352 F.3d 733, 753–54 (2d Cir.2003)) (additional citation omitted); see also Patterson, 375 F.3d at 230 (“[G]enerally, a public employee acts under color of ......
  • Romero v. City of N.Y., No. 08–CV–2529 (KAM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 17, 2012
    ...sexual harassment] imposes a greater evidentiary burden on a Title IX claimant [than a Title VII claimant].” Hayut v. State Univ. of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 750 (2d Cir.2003). Here, it is undisputed that Richmond Hill's Assistant Principal Himonides and Principal De Sanctis were informed of a p......
  • Bacchus v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., Case No. 12 CV 1663(PKC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 30, 2015
    ...be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].’ " Hayut v. State Univ. of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 743 (2d Cir.2003) (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ) (alterations in original); see also Lyons v. Lancer Ins. Co., 681 ......
  • Ceslik v. Miller Ford, Inc., Civil No. 3:04CV2045(AWT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • September 30, 2008
    ...and abusive" to survive summary judgment. Demoret v. Zegarelli, 451 F.3d 140, 149 (2d Cir.2006) (quoting Hayut v. State Univ. Of N.Y., 352 F.3d 733, 745 (2d If the plaintiff's co-workers were responsible for the conduct constituting Page 444 the hostile work environment, the employer will o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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