Court, Judicial District of Hartford File No. CV-13-6042588
of decision on defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Motion granted. Proceedings
Michael T. Petela, Jr., for the plaintiff.
C. Hoeing, Craig A. Redinger, pro hac vice
Jeffrey D. Wilson, pro hac vice, for the defendant.
this court is a motion for summary judgment filed by the
defendant, Great Expression Dental Centers of Connecticut,
P.C. The plaintiff, Ukti Phadnis, is a dentist who was
terminated from the employ of the defendant on August 16,
2012, and commenced this action on May 31, 2013. In the first
three counts of her amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges
violations of General Statutes § 46a-51 et seq., the
Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA).
Specifically, the plaintiff alleges her termination was the
result of discrimination based on the plaintiff's
pregnancy and that her termination was a result of unlawful
retaliation. In the remaining counts, the plaintiff further
alleges, with respect to her employment contract with the
defendant, breach of contract, breach of implied contract,
and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
For the reasons outlined below, this court grants summary
judgment as to all counts.
amended complaint alleges the following facts. The plaintiff,
a female, was employed by the defendant as a dentist in its
East Windsor office from December 12, 2011, through her
termination on August 16, 2012. In May, 2012, the plaintiff
notified her employer that she was pregnant and that her
doctor had placed restrictions on her exposure to X ray
radiation. Further, in May, 2012, the plaintiff began to
suffer from morning sickness that often required her to be
late for work. To address her tardiness, the plaintiff met
with her supervisor, Dr. Paul Kim, in May, 2012, to arrange
for an adjustment to her schedule, which would allow her to
arrive at 8:30 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. Dr. Kim and the
plaintiff again met in mid-June to discuss maintaining her
late start time, which Dr. Kim did not oppose. Then, in
mid-July, aware of the scheduling problems arising from her
morning sickness-induced tardiness, the plaintiff requested
to be transferred to the defendant's Manchester office
where additional dentists were on staff to assist with
coverage in the event she was late to work. Dr. Kim agreed to
this time, the plaintiff also alleges, she brought to the
defendant's attention its discriminatory application of
disciplinary policies in regard to two other employees in the
office. Despite a good work record, positive feedback, and
only one patient complaint during her tenure, the plaintiff
was terminated on August 16, 2012. The defendant's stated
reasons for the termination were as follows: (1) the
plaintiff's inability to maintain the schedule of the
office, which had been brought to the plaintiff's
attention twice prior; (2) complaints from staff and patients
concerning her performance; and (3) unprofessional
interactions with staff.
judgment is a method of resolving litigation when pleadings,
affidavits, and any other proof submitted show that there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. . . . The
motion for summary judgment is designed to eliminate the
delay and expense of litigating an issue when there is no
real issue to be tried. . . . However, since litigants
ordinarily have a constitutional right to have issues of fact
decided by a jury . . . the moving party for summary judgment
is held to a strict standard . . . of demonstrating his
entitlement to summary judgment.'' (Citation omitted;
footnote omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.)
Grenier v. Commissioner of Transportation, 306 Conn.
523, 534-35, 51 A.3d 367 (2012). ‘‘Summary
judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
affidavits and other proof submitted show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. . . . In
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the trial court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party.'' (Citation omitted; internal
quotation marks omitted.) Vendrella v. Astriab Family
Ltd. Partnership, 311 Conn. 301, 313, 87 A.3d 546
the party moving for summary judgment, the [movant] is
required to support its motion with supporting documentation,
including affidavits.'' Heyman Associates No. 1
v. Ins. Co. of Pennsylvania, 231 Conn. 756, 796, 653
A.2d 122 (1995). Likewise, ‘‘[t]he existence of
the genuine issue of material fact must be demonstrated by
counter affidavits and concrete evidence.'' (Emphasis
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Walker v.
Dept. of Children & Families, 146 Conn.App. 863,
870, 80 A.3d 94 (2013), cert. denied, 311 Conn. 917, 85 A.3d
653 (2014). ‘‘Mere assertions of fact . . . are
insufficient to establish the existence of a material fact
and, therefore, cannot refute evidence properly presented to
the court under Practice Book § [17-45].''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Marinos v.
Poirot, 308 Conn. 706, 712, 66 A.3d 860 (2013).
plaintiff alleges in count one of her amended complaint that
the defendant's stated reason for her termination,
chronic tardiness, was a pretext for unlawful discrimination
based on her pregnancy. Specifically, the plaintiff claims
that the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of
her pregnancy in violation of § 46a-60 (a) (1) and (7).
Section 46a-60 (a) provides in relevant part:
‘‘It shall be a discriminatory practice in
violation of this section . . . (1) [f]or an employer, by the
employer or the employer's agent, except in the case of a
bona fide occupational qualification or need, to refuse to
hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment any
individual . . . because of the individual's race, color,
religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression,
marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past
history of mental disability, intellectual disability,
learning disability or physical disability . . . .''
Under CFEPA, ‘‘ ‘[p]hysically disabled'
refers to any individual who has any chronic physical
handicap, infirmity or impairment, whether congenital or
resulting from bodily injury, organic processes or changes or
from illness . . . .'' General Statutes § 46a-51
the plaintiff has cursorily referenced the previously
mentioned provision, she has not established nor adequately
briefed a claim that her cause of action supports
discrimination based on disability. Moreover, neither
pregnancy nor morning sickness is recognized as a disability
under these provisions. Therefore, to the extent that the
plaintiff has made a claim under this provision, this court
considers it abandoned.
the plaintiff's claims regarding § 46a-60 (a), the
provision states in pertinent part: ‘‘It shall be
a discriminatory practice in violation of this section . . .
(7) [f]or an employer, by the employer or the employer's
agent: (A) To terminate a woman's employment because of
her pregnancy; (B) to refuse to grant to that employee a
reasonable leave of absence for disability resulting from her
pregnancy . . . (E) to fail or refuse to make a reasonable
effort to transfer a pregnant employee to any suitable
temporary position which may be available in any case in
which an employee gives written notice of her pregnancy to
her employer and the ...