Plaintiff asserts a number of objections to the R R's recommendation that the Court grant defendant's summary judgment motion. In particular, plaintiff contends Judge Boyle erred in determining that 1 the collateral estoppel effect of the May state-court judgment precludes her from bringing this action, and 2 in the alternative, even without the preclusive effects of the Nassau County decision, she is unable to show evidence of retaliation.
For the reasons that follow, the Court, after reviewing the R R under a de novo standard of review, rejects plaintiff's objections. See 28 U. Simon , F. Brands, Inc. Dep't of Bldgs. App'x 97, 98 2d Cir. Nevertheless, plaintiff argues that collateral estoppel should not apply. However, under well-settled law, collateral estoppel does not require that the defendants in the first action and the second action be identical.
See LaFleur v. Whitman , F. App'x at 99 "That the plaintiff did not name the identical parties in the state and federal actions does not disturb our finding of preclusiveness. Thus, because plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate her claims of retaliation in state court, defendant may assert collateral estoppel against her here.
Plaintiff contends, however, that the third complaint should have actually stated that her suspension and termination were in retaliation for her making the First NYSDHR Complaint, which she filed in October Regardless of whether or not an error was made in the Third NYSDHR Complaint, collateral estoppel would still apply to bar plaintiff from bringing this case.
See Verveniotis Decl. W, ECF No.
In sum, plaintiff raised, and the state court necessarily determined, both the issue of the proper factual basis for the Third NYSDHR Complaint and the issue of any nexus between plaintiff's NYSDHR complaint and her suspension and termination. Accordingly, plaintiff cannot re-litigate those issues here. See, e. U, ECF No. Finally, the state-court decision still has collateral estoppel effect even though it is pending on appeal.
See Franklin Dev. Dobbs Ferry Union Free Sch. United States , 28 F. In sum, the May state-court decision affirming the NYSDHR's finding of "no probable cause" precludes plaintiff from bringing this action. Furthermore, this Court agrees with the R R that, even if collateral estoppel did not bar plaintiff's claim, there is no evidence from which a rational trier of fact could find unlawful retaliation. The Court evaluates a Title VII retaliation claim under the three-step, burden-shifting framework used for an adverse employment claim, as established by McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Green , U. First, a plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of retaliation by demonstrating that " 1 the employee was engaged in protected activity; 2 the employer was aware of that activity; 3 the employee suffered an adverse employment action; and 4 there was a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. Daly , F. Lawrence Co.
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In determining whether a plaintiff has satisfied this initial burden, the court's role in evaluating a summary judgment request is "to determine only whether proffered admissible evidence would be sufficient to permit a rational finder of fact to infer a retaliatory motive. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. The burden then shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the employment action; if the defendant carries that burden, it shifts back to plaintiff to demonstrate by competent evidence that the reasons proffered by defendant were pretext for retaliatory animus based upon the protected Title VII activity.
See Sista v. CDC Ixis N. Here, the Court will assume arguendo that plaintiff has established a prima facie case of retaliation. Defendant has proffered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff's suspension and termination — namely, her incompetence and misconduct. There is no evidence, however, that this reason was a pretext for a retaliatory motive.
As noted above, plaintiff was terminated following a disciplinary hearing under Section 75 of the New York Civil Service Law. The hearing officer's page opinion recounts the allegations against plaintiff and finds plaintiff guilty of all but two of these charges. E at 18, ECF No. Plaintiff was found to have, inter alia , become loud and disrespectful towards a supervisor, used a vulgar word in a sexually explicit context, left the office without telling others where she was going, thrown a letter at a supervisor and then slammed it down onto a desk, left a counseling meeting after her supervisor told her not to leave, acted rudely and discourteously towards a physical therapist and speech pathologist who were attempting to obtain payment for work they had done with District students, and performed incompetently by repeatedly making errors on forms she was assigned to fill out as part of her job.
Plaintiff points to no evidence, for example, that other employees who had engaged in similar misconduct were not terminated. Furthermore, although plaintiff points out that defendant terminated her only a few months after she filed the Second NYSDHR Complaint, temporal proximity between protected activity and an adverse employment action is insufficient by itself to create a triable issue of fact. Monroe v. Xerox Corp. Principi , F.
App'x , 2d Cir. This is particularly true here because plaintiff had been suspended approximately one month before she filed the second complaint, and the Section 75 hearing that ultimately led to plaintiff's termination also occurred before plaintiff filed the second complaint.
Slattery v. Swiss Reins. Finally, plaintiff takes issue with the R R's conclusion that she could not attempt to defeat summary judgment by introducing the results of a polygraph test she took.
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See Pl. The test apparently indicated that plaintiff had told the truth in the Section 75 administrative hearing regarding her misconduct. This Court, however, agrees with Judge Boyle that the polygraph results are inadmissible to defeat summary judgment. Moreover, even if the polygraph evidence were admissible, it would not, by itself, enable plaintiff to survive summary judgment.
At best, the polygraph evidence would indicate that the Court should credit plaintiff's version of certain incidents for which she was eventually disciplined. However, whether or not plaintiff actually engaged in misconduct is not the relevant question in a Title VII case.
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The Court must determine not whether defendant's decision to fire plaintiff was correct but whether it was retaliatory. City Dep't of Educ. Postal Serv. Aikens , U. Hudson Valley Hosp.
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At the time of his guilty pleas in June , White was already serving a year prison sentence for his conviction for Murder in the death of Sawarie Krichindath, who was found slain in her Hartford apartment on March 16, He was previously convicted in of Manslaughter in the First Degree in the beating death of Betty Robertson, also in Hartford. According to the arrest warrant affidavits, White is a registered sex offender with a "pattern of violence again st women, often including violent sexual encounters.
Shiraleen Crawford, age 30, was found dead in her apartment on Martin Street in Hartford on August 14, An autopsy determined she died from blunt trauma to the head and also suffered stab wounds to the head, chest and neck. Sonia Rivera, age 48, was found unresponsive in an alley off Washington Street in Hartford on September 27, The victim of trauma to her head and face, she died in the hospital on October 3, White was sentenced to 50 years in prison on each of the Murder charges for his latest convictions. JOSE E.