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Hines v. State of Connecticut Department of Correction

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 16, 2017

ARSHENNA HINES, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          WARREN W. EGINTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action, plaintiff Arshenna Hines alleges that defendant State of Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) discriminated against her because she is an African-American woman and retaliated against her for filing complaints. She alleges disparate treatment based on race and gender in violation of Title VII and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”); she alleges retaliation in violation of Title VII and CFEPA.[1]

         Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims of disparate treatment and retaliation. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         A. BACKGROUND

         The parties have submitted statements of undisputed facts, exhibits and affidavits. These materials reflect the following factual background.

         Plaintiff commenced employment as a Correction Officer with DOC on December 7, 2007. In June 2013, she was promoted to a position as Correctional Treatment Officer (“CTO”) and began a six-month promotional working test period at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correction Institution.

         According to the relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement, a working test period is considered an extension of the examination process. Unsatisfactory performance during the working test period is considered a failure of the competitive exam.

         Performance evaluations are given at three-month intervals during the working test period, and a Unit Administrator/Warden may direct the completion of an unscheduled evaluation when the employee's performance shows a marked improvement or deterioration.

         Plaintiff was supervised by Jeffrey Zegarzewski, a former Correctional Counselor Supervisor, and Martin Pluszynski, Correction Lieutenant and Unit Manager for the Security Risk Group at Corrigan. She was initially assigned to train with CTO Albert Harraka, whom she alleges treated her adversely, and Counselor Christie Huffer. Approximately one month later, due to concerns about her performance, she was assigned to first shift for an additional thirty days of supervision and training with Harraka and Huffer.

         On September 4, 2013, Zegarzewski and Pluszynski completed an initial performance evaluation of plaintiff. She was rated as overall unsatisfactory, and she received a Notice of Tardiness. The evaluation was approved by the Deputy Warden and presented to the plaintiff on September 16, 2013.

         Plaintiff's assignment to first shift was extended another thirty days for further on the job training. Plaintiff was provided with a letter that extended her working test period by an additional three months to give her an opportunity to improve her performance. However, plaintiff refused to sign the letter, and her working test period was not extended.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding her evaluation. However, the grievance was withdrawn by her union because performance evaluations cannot be grieved during a working test period pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

         On September 6, 2013, plaintiff and Harraka had a verbal conflict regarding work duties. Harraka was thereafter temporarily transferred to another building pending investigation. Harraka and plaintiff did not work together again after that incident.

         In a statement dated September 6, 2013, plaintiff indicated that Harraka had been unprofessional and uncooperative. DOC staff attempted mediation with Harraka and plaintiff but plaintiff refused to participate. She told Deputy Warden Stephen Bates that she wanted the matter investigated and that she had been subjected to ...


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