THERESA D. S. HEYWARD ET AL.
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT ET AL.
October 10, 2017
Z. Zyko, for the appellants (plaintiffs).
Lynch, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief,
was George Jepsen, attorney general, for the appellee (named
DiPentima, C. J., and Keller and Pellegrino, Js.
action arising out of alleged workplace discrimination, the
plaintiff Theresa D. S. Heyward appeals from the judgment of
the trial court rendered in favor of the defendant Judicial
Department of the state of Connecticut. On appeal, the
plaintiff claims that the court erred in granting the
defendant's motion to strike her hostile work environment
and racial discrimination claims. We disagree and,
accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Heyward v. Judicial Department, 159
Conn.App. 794, 797-98, 124 A.3d 920 (2015), this court set
forth the following undisputed facts and procedural history:
‘‘[The plaintiff], who is African-American, was
employed as an administrative clerk in the clerk's office
for the Superior Court in Meriden. At all relevant times, she
was the only nonwhite employee working in the Meriden
July 18, 2012, [the plaintiff] filed a complaint with the
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), alleging
that she had been subjected to harassment, discrimination and
denied time off for medical appointments due to her race and
gender, and as retaliation for engaging in protected
activities. In her CHRO complaint, [the plaintiff] named the
[defendant] as the sole respondent. She alleged that her
supervisor, [Robert A.] Axelrod, had subjected her to a
hostile work environment on the basis of her sex and race . .
March 7, 2013, [the plaintiff] received a release of
jurisdiction letter from the CHRO, authorizing her to bring
an action in the Superior Court for the claims alleged in her
CHRO complaint. On August 8, 2013, [the plaintiff and her
husband] filed a six count amended complaint [in
the Superior Court] against the [defendant and Axelrod]. The
first five counts were brought by [the plaintiff] against
[the defendant and Axelrod], and alleged, respectively,
creation of a hostile work environment, race based
discrimination, disability discrimination, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. . . .
[defendant] moved to dismiss the amended complaint on August
14, 2013, arguing that the court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to hear the case for a number of reasons. With
respect to the [defendant], the court granted the motion to
dismiss . . . [as to] counts [three] four, five, and six . .
. .'' (Footnotes added and omitted.)
February 21, 2014, the plaintiff appealed from the
court's dismissal of the latter four counts of her
amended complaint. On September 15, 2015, this court
dismissed the appeal as to the defendant for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, concluding that the plaintiff had not
appealed from a final judgment. See id., 805. While
that appeal was pending, the defendant moved to strike the
remaining two counts of the plaintiff's amended
complaint, alleging hostile work environment and race
discrimination. On December 10, 2015, the plaintiff filed her
memorandum in opposition to the defendant's motion to
strike. On April 12, 2016, the court issued a memorandum of
decision granting the defendant's motion to strike on the
ground that the plaintiff's amended complaint did not
allege sufficient facts to support claims of hostile work
environment or race discrimination, and, in the alternative,
that the plaintiff's memorandum in opposition was
inadequately briefed. This appeal followed. Additional facts
will be set forth as necessary.
plaintiff claims that the court improperly struck her hostile
work environment and race discrimination claims and contends
that she is ‘‘entitled to the broadest
construction of the allegations of the amended complaint
without [formulaic words] being required.'' We
disagree and conclude that the plaintiff has pleaded
insufficient facts to state a claim of hostile work
environment or race discrimination.
first set forth the appropriate standard of review in an
appeal from the granting of a motion to strike.
‘‘Because a motion to strike challenges the legal
sufficiency of a pleading and, consequently, requires no
factual findings by the trial court, our review of the
court's ruling . . . is plenary.'' (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) Amato v. Hearst
Corp., 149 Conn.App. 774, 777, 89 A.3d 977 (2014).
‘‘The role of the trial court [is] to examine the
[complaint], construed in favor of the [plaintiff], to
determine whether the [pleading party has] stated a legally
sufficient cause of action.'' (Internal quotation
marks omitted.) Szczapa v. United Parcel
Service, Inc., 56 Conn.App. 325, 328, 743 A.2d 622,
cert. denied, 252 Conn. 951, 748 A.2d 299 (2000).
‘‘It is fundamental that in determining the
sufficiency of a complaint challenged by a defendant's
motion to strike, all well-pleaded facts and those facts
necessarily implied from the allegations are taken as
admitted. . . . For the purpose of ruling upon a motion to
strike, the facts alleged in a complaint, though not the
legal conclusions it may contain, are deemed to be admitted.
. . . A motion to strike is properly granted if the complaint
alleges mere conclusions of law that are unsupported by the
facts alleged.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Amato v. Hearst Corp., supra,
following additional facts are necessary for our discussion.
Our decision in the plaintiff's prior appeal summarizes
the well-pleaded facts set forth in paragraphs nine and ten
of the amended complaint as follows: ‘‘Axelrod
allegedly told an African-American police officer that he
‘must be working hard' because he was
‘black.' Margaret Malia, [the plaintiff's]
coworker, allegedly stated that she ‘did not believe in
interracial relationships . . . .' [The plaintiff] was
also denied vacation time and medical leave because of
‘operational need, ' even though Axelrod routinely
granted other employees requests for time off. Axelrod yelled
at [the plaintiff] in front of coworkers and members of the
public, and interrupted [the plaintiff's] conversations,
both during work and while she was on breaks, to discuss
work-related matters. [The plaintiff] felt that Axelrod
showed Malia ‘preferential treatment' at her
expense. Axelrod placed a ‘defamatory, ...