United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JOSEPH A. MULLIGAN, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES, State of Connecticut, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
W. EGINTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph Mulligan alleges disparate treatment and hostile work
environment discrimination based on his gender, and
retaliation based on his complaints of discrimination.
Defendant Department of Developmental Services
("DDS") has moved for summary judgment on all three
counts. For the following reasons, defendant's motion
will be granted.
following information was gleaned from the parties'
statements of fact, affidavits, deposition transcripts, and
other exhibit documentation.
began working for defendant in 2004. He was an office
assistant whose duties consisted of filing, copying,
answering calls, and various other clerical tasks. The terms
and conditions of plaintiff s employment are controlled by a
collective bargaining agreement. As of 2004, all of
defendant's employees were required to undergo sexual
harassment prevention and diversity training.
of plaintiff s work performance reviews state that he would
occasionally wander off and needed to focus on staying in his
work area. The reviews also noted some attendance problems.
Nevertheless, plaintiff was able to maintain a large volume
January 12, 2006, plaintiff received a letter regarding
alleged inappropriate behavior, which provided that plaintiff
had made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to one of
defendant's consumers. The letter provided:
The DMR work rules clearly state that “employee
behavior, conduct and language shall provide a good example
for consumers….Any behavior that endangers the safety
and welfare of consumers or employees…inappropriate
teasing or horseplay is prohibited. Direct or implied
threats, even those made in a joking manner, are
Your supervisor and manager have spoken to you on two earlier
occasions about inappropriate conduct and language in the
By way of this letter I am ordering you to cease and desist
from any future such actions towards any of our consumers.
This kind of behavior will not be tolerated. Any future acts
of this kind will result in serious disciplinary follow up.
August 24, 2009, plaintiff was suspended without pay for
violating DDS work rule #20, which prohibits accessing the
internet for personal use during work hours using State
alleges only a single similarly situated comparator, a female
office assistant, whom plaintiff had often criticized.
Plaintiff asserted that the office assistant was angry and
hostile over his criticism of her work, resulting in her
behaving unprofessionally and creating a scene.
February 22, 2012, plaintiff filed a written complaint
against the female office assistant. Plaintiff asserts that
he was on break when the female office assistant charged at
him and took a swing at him. Plaintiff did not return to work
until February 27, 2012, where he learned that the female
office assistant had been involuntarily transferred to
different office in another town. Defendant also suspended
her without pay as a result of her conduct toward plaintiff.
female office assistant eventually returned to work at
plaintiff's office in June 2012, but defendant
restructured plaintiff's job duties to eliminate his need
for interaction with her. Moreover, the female office
assistant was relocated to a different area of the office in
an effort to limit her contact with plaintiff.
the female office assistant and plaintiff were represented by
their union as part of their respective disciplinary
hearings. The female office assistant and plaintiff did not
share a similar disciplinary history, and plaintiff, unlike
she, refused to agree to the compromised discipline imposed
could not name a similarly situated female co-worker who
received less severe discipline than he did for the period of
February 2013 to November 2014.
receiving numerous written complaints from plaintiff's
co-workers about plaintiff's concerning behavior,
defendant investigated those claims, including a complaint
from a co-worker, for violations of defendant's sexual
harassment policy and DDS work rule #3, which concerns
inappropriate conduct toward DDS clients.
22, 2012, a female co-worker filed a sexual harassment
complaint against plaintiff. Plaintiff did not learn of the
complaint until June 12, 2012, when he was notified of an
upcoming meeting with Ms. Reid, an EEO investigator, and a
union representative. Defendant took statements from seven
non-management employees as part of its investigation and
concluded that these third parties described plaintiff's
workplace behavior similarly.
co-workers told defendant that plaintiff sometimes visited
female employees at their homes unannounced, uninvited, and
going as far as being physically present in their homes
without their knowledge. These co-workers described feeling
uneasy, anxious, and uncomfortable around plaintiff.
plaintiff's co-workers complained to defendant that
plaintiff told her disturbing information about another
co-worker's sexual history, mental health, and drug use;
and that plaintiff cursed at her when she told plaintiff to
stop disclosing such information.
plaintiff's co-workers told defendant that plaintiff used
inappropriate language such as, “fucking, ”
“vagina, ” “talking shit, ” and
excused himself by stating that his language constituted
“slips.” Some co-workers told defendant that
plaintiff is unstable and disrupts other employees at their
desks. These co-workers told defendant that plaintiff is
unpredictable, chatty one day and quiet another. Most of
these co-workers told defendant that they were afraid of
retaliation from plaintiff, who had stated that he could take
people down. Some co-workers indicated that they were afraid
of plaintiff's erratic behavior, using language such as,
“He could go off the deep end, ” or, “He
could flip.” One June 22, 2012, defendant's Equal
Employment Opportunity department interviewed plaintiff about
the allegations of sexual harassment and threatening brought
against him by co-workers. Plaintiff was accompanied by a
12, 2012, plaintiff received a letter from Ms. Reid, which
reported her findings and concluded that plaintiff had
engaged in sexual harassment. Reid recommended that plaintiff
take sexual harassment training as a remedy.
18, 2012, defendant notified plaintiff that he would have a
pre-disciplinary Loudermill hearing on August 1,
2012. Following the hearing, defendant placed plaintiff on
paid administrative leave pending a fitness for duty
evaluation while defendant further investigated claims of
plaintiff's improper behavior toward his female
co-workers. Plaintiff was on paid administrative leave from
August 1, 2012, until February 8, 2013. He returned to work
on February 13, 2013. Plaintiff did not suffer any loss of
pay or benefits while on paid administrative leave.
swore that defendant viewed him as mentally disabled based
upon his coworkers' complaints. State regulations permit
an agency to request a fitness for duty examination of an
employee. Both male and female employees of defendant have