Manzi v. Dicarlo

Decision Date06 April 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-CV-488 ERK.,98-CV-488 ERK.
Citation62 F.Supp.2d 780
PartiesEstelle MANZI, Plaintiff, v. Robert DICARLO, Individually and in his official capacity; Clorinda Annarummo, Individually and in her official capacity; and The State of New York and The New York State Senate, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York

Bonnie M. Mussman, New York City, for plaintiff.

Andrea Christensen, Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hayes & Handler, New York City, Alpha Sanghri, Office of the Attorney General State of New York, New York City, for defendants.


KORMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Estelle Manzi, worked in the district office of State Senator Robert DiCarlo from November 1993 until February 1995, when she was dismissed at the age of 61. She claims that she was harassed and fired because of her age and because she suffered from arthritis. Manzi was originally hired as a case-specialist by New York State Senator Christopher Mega in November 1992. (Manzi Dep. at 7). She obtained this patronage position through the help of defendant, Robert DiCarlo. (Manzi Dep. at 23 ("Q. How did you obtain a position in Senator Mega's office? A.... Robert DiCarlo was nice enough to get me the position.")). At the time, Manzi was 59 years old. (Sloan Aff. ¶ 17 & Exhibit E). Her employment was renewed under Senator Mega's "appointing authority" from January 1, 1993 through December 31, 1994. (Id.). In the summer of 1993, however, Senator Mega resigned to become a judge of the New York State Court of Claims. (DiCarlo Aff. ¶ 5). In 1993, DiCarlo was elected to fill Senator Mega's seat.

DiCarlo "inherited" Senator Mega's staff. (DiCarlo Aff. ¶ 7; Sloan Aff. ¶ 18). Defendant Clorinda Annarummo became DiCarlo's Chief of Staff. In this role, Annarummo had hiring and firing authority and participated in DiCarlo's hiring and firing decisions. (Manzi Dep. at 28-29, 118-19, 218-19; DiCarlo Dep. at 30-36). Together with Annarummo, Charisse Renzi, who is not a party to this case, supervised Manzi's work. In December 1993, Manzi became Scheduling Coordinator. (Manzi Dep. at 60-61, 65-66). Her work performance was satisfactory. (Id. at 43). In January 1994, Senator DiCarlo was given a staffing allocation and recommended employment of the majority of Senator Mega's staff, including Manzi, from January 27, 1994 to December 31, 1994. Manzi was promoted and given a salary increase under Senator DiCarlo's appointing authority. (DiCarlo Aff. ¶ 9, Sloan Aff. ¶ 18).

I. Manzi's Alleged Disability

In August of 1992, Manzi had been diagnosed with arthritis at the joints of both thumbs. (Defendants' Exhibit P (Manzi's medical records)). She did not see her doctor again until early 1994, when she filed a Worker's Compensation Claim, complaining of pain in both thumbs, allegedly aggravated by typing. (Defendants' Exhibits P & O (Manzi's Worker's Compensation)). At that time, upon the advice of her doctor, Manzi began wearing a soft cast on her hand to alleviate the pain from her arthritis. (Manzi Aff. ¶ 4). She was supposed to wear the cast as much as possible, but she had to remove it to type. (Id.). Manzi did not see her doctor again until February 27, 1995, five days after her termination, and approximately the same time that she consulted her attorney regarding this lawsuit. (Defendants' Exhibit P; Manzi Dep. at 69).

Despite her arthritis, Manzi was able to perform all of her tasks including typing. (Manzi Dep. at 112). As she alleged in her affidavit filed here, "[w]hile working for State Senator DiCarlo, I was able to perform all of my essential duties," except for an unusual filing project necessitated by the relocation of the Senator's district office. (Annarummo Aff. ¶¶ 11-12; Manzi Dep. at 112, 200-04). The project involved lifting and filing 15,000 to 16,000 files that were "tightly packed" in a cabinet. (Manzi Dep. at 66). The filing project caused Manzi considerable pain because she had "great difficulty grasping and pulling things and the files were tightly wedged." (Manzi Aff. ¶ 5; see also Manzi Dep. at 66-67 ("I could not physically do it. I have a problem lifting things. I can't carry things.")). This project, which occurred at the end of 1994, was the first time she had communicated any limitation in her manual dexterity or her ability to work. As she testified at her deposition:

Q. You never discussed with Clorinda Annarummo what jobs you could perform in the office and what jobs you could not perform in the office because of your disability; is that correct?

A. That's correct, because basically I could perform. I could type. I didn't have any problem with anything, except I can't lift things.

(Manzi Dep. at 112). Nor did she provide medical documentation regarding her disability to any of the defendants. (Manzi Dep. at 99, 200).

II. Age Comments

When DiCarlo first saw Mrs. Manzi wearing her cast, he allegedly referred to her as a "cripple." (Manzi Dep. at 35-41, 61-62; Davis Dep. at 86 ("wow, now I have cripples here as well"); Renzi Dep. I at 100 ("We have all invalids here.")). From time to time, DiCarlo made other comments about various employees "getting on in years" and "being too old for the job," being "over the hill,"and being "old fogeys." He also spoke of the need for "young guns" and "young blood," commented about seniors "thinking we owe them a living" and "having more money than we do," and stated that he did not feel sorry for them. (Manzi Dep. at 35, 38-41, 101-03, 113-18, 209-11, 263; Davis Dep. at 19-20, 79-90 ("young blood"; "they think the world owes them a living"; "seniors have more money than us, don't feel sorry for them"); Renzi Dep. I at 99-103 ("young blood"; "invalid" comment); Renzi Dep. II at 127-29 ("young blood" comment heard "once or twice")). At one point DiCarlo allegedly told Manzi, "I want to fire Faye [Davis] because she is getting on. She doesn't have patience." (Manzi Dep. at 101).

Defendant Annarummo also made derogatory comments about the older employees in the office. She complained about Lucille Griffin walking too slowly and looking old. Griffin was fired shortly thereafter. Annarummo also described Austen Canade as "over the hill," and Eugene Russo as "stale" and "old." (Manzi Dep. at 233-35; Davis Dep. at 21). (Canade and Russo were still employed at the office in 1996. (Defendants' Mem., Addendum 2)). In addition, she made remarks about needing young people with more energy. (Manzi Dep. at 115-18, 233-35; Davis Dep. at 20-22; Renzi Dep. II. at 63-65).

III. Other Harassment

Manzi claims that, beginning in 1994, she was subjected to continual harassment and disparate treatment by DiCarlo and Annarummo beyond the alleged age related comments. First, she was denied training as Scheduling Coordinator. (Manzi Dep. at 52-54, 185; Renzi Dep. I at 13-15; but see Annarummo Aff. ¶¶ 8-10 (Manzi was given the same one-day computer training as everyone else.)).

Second, her request for a quiet location to work was denied, and she was assigned additional receptionist and phone answering duties, which diverted her from her scheduling responsibilities. Apparently, every prior staff member that served as Scheduling Coordinator since 1986 had sat where Manzi sat and handled additional responsibilities. (Annarummo Aff. ¶ 6). Manzi alleges, however, that Anke Long, her predecessor as Scheduling Coordinator, had been assigned a quiet desk in the back so she could concentrate on her scheduling duties. (Manzi Dep. at 174-76; Plaintiff's Exhibit 1, ¶ 3). Annarummo attributes Long's "brief period of time" at that desk to staffing changes. (Annarummo Aff. ¶ 6).

In November 1994, Manzi was removed as scheduling coordinator (but retained her title and salary, Annarummo Aff. ¶ 7) and was replaced by Andrea Sabatella, who was approximately 24 years old. Sabatella was assigned a quiet desk in the back of the office, and was given training by Annarummo. Manzi became a case-specialist again. (Manzi Dep. at 93, 176; Plaintiff's Exhibit 1, ¶ 4). Also in or about November 1994, Manzi was asked to clean the office cellar, which was full of mice and roaches. She refused because it was not in her job description and it involved lifting heavy cartons "which is not a job for a woman to do." (Manzi Dep. at 109-10).

Shortly thereafter, Annarummo assigned Manzi a filing project which involved lifting and sorting approximately fifteen to sixteen thousand files (the "filing project"). (Manzi Dep. at 108-12). This project caused Manzi considerable pain. (Manzi Dep. at 66-67). Because of her arthritis, she had difficulty grasping and pulling the files, which were wedged tightly in the drawers. (Manzi Aff. ¶ 5). Annarummo was made aware of Manzi's arthritis, the aggravation of that condition by the filing project, and Manzi's complaints of pain when she performed the project. (Manzi Dep. at 66-69, 200-204; Davis Dep. at 86; Renzi Dep. at 100; Annarummo Dep. at 179-80; Plaintiff's Exhibit 5). Although Manzi never spoke directly with Annarummo, she spoke with Renzi, who informed Annarummo of Manzi's pain. Annarummo allegedly responded that Manzi had no choice and had to work on the filing project. (Manzi Dep. at 107-09; Renzi Dep. II at 97-100; Renzi Dep. I at 21-33). She did, however, say that Renzi could ask some of the part-time male staff members to help lift the files. (Annarummo Aff. ¶ 12).

In November 1994, Senator DiCarlo was re-elected to the Senate for the 1995-96 term. (DiCarlo Aff. ¶ 5). In December 1994, DiCarlo recommended continued employment for Manzi for the January 1, to February 22, 1995 period. (Defendants' Exhibit E; Sloan Aff. at ¶ 19). In January 1995, however, Senator Joseph L. Bruno, the new Majority Leader and Temporary President of the Senate, sought to reduce the Senate's expenditures by 10% ($7 million). (Defendant's Exhibit N, Sloan Aff. ¶ 25; DiCarlo Aff. ¶¶ 15, 25). Among the cuts implemented were reductions in staffing allocations. (Sloan Aff. ¶ 29). In ...

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