United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER
N. Chatigny, United States District Judge.
Michael Howard brings this action against his former
employer, the Connecticut Department of Transportation
(“DOT”), alleging racial discrimination in
violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e, et seq., and disability discrimination in
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.
Defendant filed a properly supported motion for summary
judgment in May 2016. Plaintiff took no action in response to
the motion for more than a year and his recent request for
leave to file a response to the motion has been
denied. In support of the motion for summary
judgment, defendant has shown that plaintiff's employment
with DOT was terminated after he violated DOT work rules
while subject to a last chance agreement. Review of the
record provides no indication that summary judgment is not
factually or legally appropriate. Accordingly, the motion is
record shows the following. Plaintiff worked for DOT from
1989 to 2009. Compl. 8, ECF No. 1. He most recently worked as
a “maintainer” responsible for maintenance,
construction and repair of roads. Def.'s 56(a)(1) Stmt.
¶ 32, ECF No. 60-2. On his yearly performance reviews
from 1989 through 2003, he received ratings of “at
least satisfactory.” Compl. 8. However, he did not get
along with his supervisor and received multiple write-ups for
disciplinary reasons. Def.'s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 34;
Compl. 8. In 2005, plaintiff signed a “last chance
agreement” and was transferred. Compl. 8. The relevant
provision of the agreement stated, “Mr. Howard
acknowledges and understands that ANY further fact-findings
that result in ANY disciplinary action beyond a counseling
will result in his termination from State service.”
Def.'s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶ 24. The agreement was valid
from 2005 through 2008. In 2008, plaintiff signed another
stipulated agreement reinstating the terms of the 2005
agreement. Def.'s 56(a)(1) Stmt. ¶¶ 27-29.
January 20, 2009, plaintiff's employment with DOT was
terminated. Def's 56(a)(1) Stmt. Ex. N, at 1, ECF No.
60-4. The stated reasons for the termination were
“continued violation of Department policies, procedures
and practices, which in the most recent instances, have
resulted in a violation of your Stipulated Agreements dated
August 30, 2005 and August 28, 2008.” Id.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment may be
granted if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a
genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must resolve
all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against
the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The court's role is not to
weigh the evidence but to identify and dispose of claims that
cannot succeed because they lack an adequate legal or factual
party fails to oppose a motion for summary judgment, the
court does not simply enter judgment for the moving party.
Jackson v. Fed. Express, 766 F.3d 189, 194 (2d Cir.
2014). Instead, the court examines “the moving
party's submissions to determine if it has met its burden
of demonstrating that no material fact remains for
trial.” Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677, 681 (2d
Cir. 2001). In conducting this examination, the court must
bear in mind two rules: a plaintiff who fails to file a
response to a defendant's statement of material facts is
deemed to have admitted any properly supported facts set
forth in the statement; and a plaintiff who would bear the
burden of proof at trial cannot avoid summary judgment unless
the record contains evidence sufficient to allow a trier of
fact to find in his favor. Id. These rules often
will make it difficult for a plaintiff to avoid summary
judgment when no response to a properly supported motion for
summary judgment has been filed. Even so, the court must
examine every claim or defense with a view to determining
whether summary judgment is legally and factually
appropriate. Id. After conducting the required
review, I conclude that the motion for summary judgment must
be granted as to both of plaintiff's claims.
alleges that he was discriminated against by DOT in violation
of the ADA. The complaint does not indicate whether it is
brought under Title I of the ADA, which applies to
employment, or Title II, which applies to government
programs. Because the complaint alleges employment
discrimination, however, it is construed to allege a claim
under Title I. See Henny v. New York State, 842
F.Supp.2d 530, 550 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). The complaint requests
back pay and injunctive relief. Defendant contends that the
claim is barred under the Eleventh Amendment. Def.'s Mem.
4, ECF No. 60-1. I agree.
Eleventh Amendment bars suits against state agencies such as
DOT. See Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Doe, 519 U.S.
425, 429 (1997); Fla. Dep't of Health & Rehab.
Servs. v. Fla. Nursing Home Ass'n, 450 U.S. 147, 150
(1981). The Eleventh Amendment applies unless the state has
affirmatively waived its immunity from suit, Lapides v.
Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Ga., 535 U.S. 613, 618
(2002), or Congress has passed a statute pursuant to section
five of the Fourteenth Amendment to abrogate the immunity.
Nev. Dep't of Human Res. v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721,
726 (2003). The Supreme Court has held that the Eleventh
Amendment bars suits for money damages under Title I of the
ADA. Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531
U.S. 356, 374 (2001). Accordingly, to the extent plaintiff
seeks back pay under the ADA, the motion for summary judgment
must be granted.
Eleventh Amendment does not bar an action for injunctive
relief under Title I of the ADA if the suit satisfies the
requirements of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
See Bd. of Trs., 531 U.S. at 374 n.9. Ex parte
Young permits suits for prospective injunctive relief
against state officers in their official capacities to remedy
ongoing violations of federal law. Ex parte Young
does not apply here because the complaint does not name a
state official. See Henny, 842 F.Supp.2d at 545 n.
13. Accordingly, the claim for injunctive relief under Title
I is also barred.
Title VII Claim
alleges that DOT discriminated against him on the basis of
race when his employment was terminated. Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.
This claim is analyzed using the burden-shifting framework
set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
U.S. 792, 802 (1973). To establish a prima facie case of
discrimination, plaintiff must show that the termination of
his employment occurred in circumstances giving rise to an
inference of discrimination. Johnson v. Conn. Dep't
of Admin. Servs., 972 F.Supp.2d 223, 242 (D. Conn. 2013)
(citing Vivenzio v. City of Syracuse, 611 F.3d 98,
106 (2d Cir. 2010)). “The burden of establishing a
prima facie case is not onerous, and has been frequently
described as minimal.” Scarina v. Rubin, 117
F.3d 652, 654 (2d Cir. 1997). If plaintiff establishes a
prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to
proffer a legitimate, “nondiscriminatory reason”
for its action. James v. N.Y. Racing Ass'n, 233
F.3d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 2000). If the defendant proffers such
a reason, it will be entitled to summary judgment
“unless the plaintiff can point to ...