Rodriguez v. City of New York, No. 05-CV-5117 (JFB)(SMG).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtJoseph F. Bianco
Citation644 F.Supp.2d 168
Decision Date11 February 2008
Docket NumberNo. 05-CV-5117 (JFB)(SMG).
PartiesRachel RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff, v. The CITY OF NEW YORK, Raymond W. Kelly, Neldra M. Zeigler, Rafael Pineiro, Diana L. Pizzuti, Dr. Eloise Archibald, Scott T. Loos, Louis Carabetta, Patrick Zweibel and Saledine Patel, individually and in the official capacities as employees of the Police Department of the City of New York, Defendants.
644 F.Supp.2d 168
Rachel RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
The CITY OF NEW YORK, Raymond W. Kelly, Neldra M. Zeigler, Rafael Pineiro, Diana L. Pizzuti, Dr. Eloise Archibald, Scott T. Loos, Louis Carabetta, Patrick Zweibel and Saledine Patel, individually and in the official capacities as employees of the Police Department of the City of New York, Defendants.
No. 05-CV-5117 (JFB)(SMG).
United States District Court, E.D. New York.
February 11, 2008.

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Eric Sanders, Esq., of Jeffrey L. Goldberg, P.C., Lake Success, NY, for plaintiff.

Blanche Greenfield, Esq., Assistant Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, NY, for defendants'.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOSEPH F. BIANCO, District Judge:


Plaintiff Rachel Rodriguez ("Rodriguez" or "plaintiff") brought this action alleging employment discrimination on the basis of her race, color, national origin, gender, disability, hostile work environment, and retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the

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Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., ("Title VII"), Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1985, and the New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 296 et seq., ("NYSHRL"), against the following defendants: City of New York ("City"), Raymond W. Kelly, Police Commissioner ("Kelly"); Neldra M. Zeigler, Deputy Commissioner, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity ("Zeigler"); Rafael Pineiro, Chief of the Personnel Bureau ("Pineiro"); Diana L. Pizzuti, Deputy Chief, Commanding Officer of the Police Academy ("Pizzuti"); Dr. Eloise Archibald, Director of the Psychological Services Section ("Dr. Archibald"); Scott T. Loos, Deputy Inspector, Recruit Training School ("Loos"); Louis Carabetta, Lieutenant, Recruit Training School ("Carabetta"); Patrick Zweibel, Lieutenant, Recruit Training School ("Zweibel"); and Saledine Patel, Sergeant, Recruit Training School ("Patel") (collectively, "defendants"). The individual defendants are charged individually and in their official capacities as employees of the Police Department of the City of New York.1

Defendants now move for summary judgment on all claims, pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). For the following reasons, defendants' motion is (1) granted with respect to the ADA claim and municipal liability claims against the City, the Section 1983 conspiracy claim and the official capacity claims against all defendants, and all claims against defendants Kelly, Zeigler, Pineiro, and Pizzuti; (2) denied with respect to the Title VII and pendent state law discrimination claims against the City; and (3) denied as to the Section 1981 and 1983 claims, as well as the pendent state law discrimination claims, against defendants Archibald, Zweibel and Sergeant Patel, in their individual capacity.2

I. BACKGROUND
A. FACTUAL BACKGROUND3

The facts described below are taken from the parties' depositions, affidavits, exhibits and defendant's Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts. Upon consideration of a motion for summary judgment, the

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Court shall construe the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Capobianco v. City of New York, 422 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir.2005).

1. Plaintiff's Initial Evaluation

Plaintiff served as a probationary police officer with the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") from July 2004 until her termination on April 15, 2005. (Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 ("Defs.' 56.1") ¶ 1.) In connection with her employment with the NYPD, plaintiff underwent an initial psychological screening by Dr. Maureen Creagh-Kaiser and was found to be "psychologically suitable." (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff contends that Dr. Creagh-Kaiser, former Police Psychologist Level One, was not licensed in the State of New York at the time she performed plaintiffs initial evaluation. (Pl.'s Ex. A.) Dr. Creagh-Kaiser's recommendation was approved by defendant Archibald, one of the supervising licensed police psychologists. (Id.)

2. Plaintiff's Alleged Claustrophobia

In July 2004, plaintiff was assigned to the police academy for recruit training. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 4.) On November 19, 2004, plaintiff attended an "Emotional Disturbed Person" ("EDP") training workshop as part of her training for the police academy. (Id. ¶ 5.) The parties, however, dispute who was in charge of the EDP workshop. Defendants claim Sergeant Patel was in charge, while plaintiff claims no independent knowledge of that fact. (Pl.'s Ex. A, at 51.) As discussed infra, defendant's articulated, nondiscriminatory basis for terminating plaintiff focuses on the events of November 19, 2004. The evidence regarding the events of that day and the City's subsequent decisions related to those events are outlined below.

(a) The Elevator

The EDP workshop was held on the sixth floor of the BMW Building, 555 West 57th Street, which is owned and managed by S.L. Green Realty Corp. (Pl.'s Ex. A, at 42-43; Ex. H, at 000150.) When plaintiff arrived at the BMW Building, she noticed a group of female recruits with whom she was "avoiding conflict" standing by the elevator. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 9.) Plaintiff asked a group of security guards if she could use the stairs instead. (Id. ¶ 10.) According to plaintiff, she requested to use the stairs in order to avoid that group of female recruits by the elevator with whom she previously had a conflict. (Pl.'s Ex. B, at 58:5-10.) The security guards did not allow her to do so because they did not have stair access. (Defs' 56.1 ¶ 10.) However, at that point, plaintiff noticed the group of female recruits was gone, so she proceeded towards the elevators. (Pl.'s Ex. A, at 58:5-10.)

Plaintiff encountered Police Officer Kelvin Liz in the lobby waiting for the next elevator. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 12.) Both Police Officer Kelvin Liz and Rodriguez heard former Security Officer Magdalena Vincente (a/k/a "Halliday") call to them, and saw her holding an elevator open. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff rode the elevator with Liz, Halliday and other passengers. Although plaintiff did not know the other passengers in the elevator, she thought they worked in the building. (Id. ¶ 14-15.) According to plaintiff, while she was talking to security guard Halliday, "[she was] very close to the elevator doors" and "while [they] were talking, [plaintiff] used [her] hands so [Halliday] says be careful with your hands because they have sensors." Plaintiff apologized and "put her hands back" and "took [her] duffle bag and [she] pushed it back as well." (Pl.'s Ex. D, at 59:8-12.)

According to plaintiff, on the ride up the elevator, Officer Halliday commented to

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plaintiff "so what is it, you don't like elevators?" to which plaintiff responded, "no." (Pl.'s Ex. D, at 59:3-8.) Officer Halliday then said "Okay, this elevator, you know, they function fast" and plaintiff then said "okay." (Id.) Plaintiff testified that when the elevator arrived at the sixth floor, a lady exited the elevator and said to plaintiff "I don't like elevators because they're in enclosed areas and they make me feel x, y, and z."4 (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 18.) Plaintiff further testified that plaintiff was "perplexed" by the woman's statement and wondered why the woman was sharing it with her. (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff guessed that the woman felt "compelled to say that she didn't like elevators" after hearing Halliday ask the plaintiff, "do you not like elevators for whatever reason." (Id.) Plaintiff and Police Officer Liz just nodded their heads and proceeded to the room for training. (Pl.'s Ex. D, at 59:18-25.)

(b) Training Workshop

During the EDP workshop, plaintiff was asked to participate in a scenario that took place on a simulated subway car. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 22.) Plaintiff contends that she was not randomly selected, but instead was asked to participate in the scenario only after Sergeant Patel whispered in Police Officer Aquino's ear. (Pl.'s Ex. E.) Plaintiff's job during the scenario was to aid a woman who was acting out a panic attack. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 26.) During the scenario, plaintiff was complimented by Officer Aquino for the way she handled the aided person. (Id. ¶ 27.)

Defendant contends defendant Aquino was the instructor in charge of the scenario. (Defs.' Ex. A, at 46-49.) Although plaintiff did not have any independent knowledge to confirm or deny who was in charge, plaintiff admits that former defendant Aquino was present during the scenario, as well as Police Officer Sumedo, a male instructor. (Pl.'s Ex. F, at 145-48.) Plaintiff participated in the scenario with three other officers, including female officer Martha Rodriguez. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 25.) The other members of plaintiffs recruit class were present during the scenario.

(c) Post-Workshop Encounter

After the workshop ended, plaintiff was approached by Sergeant Patel. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 29.) Sergeant Patel advised plaintiff that "she had heard that [plaintiff] suffered a panic attack in the elevator." (Id.) Specifically, plaintiff testified that Sergeant Patel told her that "someone had approached her and had given her a description of someone with a gray shirt, short, at the time [plaintiff's] hair was blond, fair skinned and that had suffered a panic attack and she thought it was [plaintiff]."5 (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff was wearing her blue jacket zipped over her uniform which included a grey shirt. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff described her hair color at the time to be blonde and her complexion to be fair skinned. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Plaintiff told Sergeant Patel, "I believe you have the wrong person because I did not suffer a panic attack in the elevator." (Id. ¶ 30.) Sergeant Patel responded that she was sure it was plaintiff, and advised plaintiff that "if [she] had any conditions, that [she] should come forward and address them." (Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff further testified that...

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58 practice notes
  • Alexiadis v. N.Y. Coll. of Health Professions, No 10-cv-3509 (JFB) (ETB)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 20, 2012
    ...thorough or fair"); Sharpe v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 756 F. Supp. 2d 230, 250 (N.D.N.Y. 2010) (citing Rodriguez v. City ofN.Y., 644 F. Supp. 2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) ("[T]he fact that an employee disagrees with the results of an employer's decision regarding termination, or even has eviden......
  • Greene v. Brentwood Union Free Sch. Dist., No. 11–CV–4308 (SJF)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 13, 2013
    ...that the defendants had a discriminatory motive when they found that she had used poor judgment.28See Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008) (even evidence that an investigation was faulty does not automatically demonstrate that the defendants' proffered reason......
  • Bowen-Hooks v. City of N.Y., No. 10–CV–5947 (MKB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 31, 2014
    ...demonstrate, by itself, that the employer's proffered reasons are a pretext for termination.” (citing Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008))); Randall v. Potter, No. 01–CV–2097, 2004 WL 439491, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004) (finding that even if defendant-empl......
  • Bowen-Hooks v. City of N.Y., No. 10–CV–5947 MKB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 31, 2014
    ...demonstrate, by itself, that the employer's proffered reasons are a pretext for termination.” (citing Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008) )); Randall v. Potter, No. 01–CV–2097, 2004 WL 439491, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004) (finding that even if defendant-emp......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • Alexiadis v. N.Y. Coll. of Health Professions, No 10-cv-3509 (JFB) (ETB)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 20, 2012
    ...thorough or fair"); Sharpe v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co., 756 F. Supp. 2d 230, 250 (N.D.N.Y. 2010) (citing Rodriguez v. City ofN.Y., 644 F. Supp. 2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) ("[T]he fact that an employee disagrees with the results of an employer's decision regarding termination, or even has eviden......
  • Greene v. Brentwood Union Free Sch. Dist., No. 11–CV–4308 (SJF)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • August 13, 2013
    ...that the defendants had a discriminatory motive when they found that she had used poor judgment.28See Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008) (even evidence that an investigation was faulty does not automatically demonstrate that the defendants' proffered reason......
  • Bowen-Hooks v. City of N.Y., No. 10–CV–5947 (MKB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 31, 2014
    ...demonstrate, by itself, that the employer's proffered reasons are a pretext for termination.” (citing Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008))); Randall v. Potter, No. 01–CV–2097, 2004 WL 439491, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004) (finding that even if defendant-empl......
  • Bowen-Hooks v. City of N.Y., No. 10–CV–5947 MKB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 31, 2014
    ...demonstrate, by itself, that the employer's proffered reasons are a pretext for termination.” (citing Rodriguez v. City of New York, 644 F.Supp.2d 168, 187 (E.D.N.Y.2008) )); Randall v. Potter, No. 01–CV–2097, 2004 WL 439491, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004) (finding that even if defendant-emp......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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