United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER
N. Chatigny United States District Judge.
Doreen Maynard brings this action pro se against her
former employer, the Stonington Community Center
(“COMO”), alleging discrimination and retaliation
in violation of Title VII, the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), and the Connecticut Fair
Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”). Both parties
move for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 115, 120) and plaintiff
moves to strike an affidavit defendant filed in support of
its motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 116). For reasons
that follow, plaintiff's motions are denied and
defendant's motion is granted.
parties' submissions show the following. In September
2010, defendant hired plaintiff, a female, as an Assistant
Teacher for a before-and-after-school program at Dean's
Mill Elementary School (“DMES”). Suzanne Cutler,
also female, personally hired and supervised plaintiff.
Cutler also supervised plaintiff's three male co-workers:
Bryan Primett, Scott Algiers, and Alex Walker. Walker was
Head Teacher and Primett and Algiers held the same position
as plaintiff. At the relevant time, Cutler was sixty-five,
plaintiff was fifty-nine, and plaintiff's three male
co-workers were under forty.
weeks into the job, while plaintiff was being trained, she
complained to Cutler that Primett had called her names. On
one occasion, he allegedly stated, “You think you can
remember that, granny?” According to plaintiff, Cutler
did nothing in response to the complaints. She said plaintiff
could not be too “thin skinned” at the
“immature . . . boys club” over at DMES.
According to defendant, Cutler did tell Primett to stop
calling plaintiff names and followed up with other teachers.
It is undisputed that Cutler did not conduct a formal
the fall of 2010, plaintiff continued to complain about
Primett. She reported that students heard the name-calling
and had complained to her about it. Plaintiff encouraged one
student, an eight-year old boy, to write down what Primett
had said. According to defendant, the boy's
father, Jay, asked plaintiff to stop talking to the boy about
her issues with Primett. Cutler also instructed plaintiff to
stop talking to the boy about Primett. Plaintiff disputes
that these conversations with Jay and Cutler took place.
According to plaintiff, nothing about her conversations with
the student was inappropriate; she had simply listened to the
student's unsolicited complaints about Primett and asked
the student to write them down.
December 2010 to February 2011, plaintiff reported to Cutler
several incidents of alleged child abuse by Primett and
Algiers. She also notified DMES faculty and the Connecticut
Department of Children and Families (“DCF”),
believing she was required to do so as a mandated reporter.
According to plaintiff, in addition to witnessing several
incidents herself, she heard from students and parents about
incidents of abuse. On one occasion in January, Primett
allegedly kicked a student in the gym. Algiers scolded the
student for whining. Plaintiff listened to the student's
complaints about the incident and advised the student to tell
his parents. Primett and Algiers complained to Cutler about
plaintiff's handling of the situation. Cutler determined
that the abuse allegation was false and called the
student's mother to tell her it was an
“accident.” Cutler then allegedly forbade
plaintiff from telling parents or others about Primett's
alleged abuses. Despite this instruction, plaintiff continued
to notify the appropriate persons and organizations when she
observed what she believed was child abuse.
point, Cutler separated plaintiff and Primett for most of the
forty-five minute before-school program. From 8:00 a.m. to
8:30 a.m., Primett supervised students playing sports in the
gym and plaintiff supervised students doing crafts in a
different area. They still interacted from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45
a.m., when the bell would ring and the students would go to
their classes. According to defendant, Cutler separated the
two because of the apparent tension between plaintiff and
Primett, and because plaintiff had raised concerns that not
all students participated in sports. According to plaintiff,
Cutler separated the two solely because some students
complained of abuse by Primett.
mid-February, plaintiff allegedly witnessed Primett
physically and verbally abuse Jay's eight-year old son,
the same boy who had written the letter detailing
Primett's name-calling. Plaintiff reported the abuse to
Jay, Cutler, DMES faculty, and DCF. On February 15, Cutler
spoke to Jay via telephone.According to defendant, Jay
complained that plaintiff had continued to have inappropriate
discussions with his son about her issues with Primett.
According to plaintiff, Cutler called Jay and, at the behest
of Primett, Algiers, and Walker, “incited” him to
file a formal complaint. Jay had “no problem”
with plaintiff prior to this phone call.
February 16, Jay encountered plaintiff at DMES. According to
defendant, they had a verbal disagreement. Later, plaintiff
had an “outburst” while speaking to Walker in
front of students, parents, and staff. Plaintiff disputes
this account. Jay “harassed” her and stated that
he did not want her to involve his son in adult issues at
COMO. She denied his accusations and told him about
Primett's alleged abuse of his son. He said it must not
have bothered his son because he had never mentioned it and
there were no secrets between them. Plaintiff also contends
that no “outburst” occurred in front of students,
parents, and staff.
on February 16, plaintiff called Cutler to complain about
being “harassed” by Jay and her male coworkers.
She requested a meeting with all involved, but Cutler
declined.Cutler told her not to come to work the
next day because she was too “upset.” After the
call, plaintiff emailed James Truscio, COMO's executive
director, whom she had never met. She outlined her grievances
and asked for a meeting. She also stated that she planned to
report to work unless he said otherwise because she did not
want to lose pay and believed Cutler's instruction was
“retaliatory.” Truscio did not respond to the
next day, February 17, plaintiff arrived at DMES at 7:00 a.m.
Plaintiff contends that she went to DMES to obtain job
reference letters from parents. Later in the day, Truscio held a
meeting with plaintiff and Cutler. Truscio stated that the
purpose of the meeting was to investigate complaints against
plaintiff regarding the events of the previous day and her
conversations with Jay's son. He told her that her job
was in jeopardy. Plaintiff complained that she had requested
relief from Primett's “bad mouthing” but
never received it. She also complained about how they were
handling the allegations against her, in particular, that
they denied her requested meeting with everyone involved. She
threatened legal action if Truscio decided to discipline or
terminate her. Truscio told her she would be paid for the
rest of the week but that she should not come into work. The
COMO program did not operate for the following two weeks due
to DMES's winter break.
February 28, Truscio held another meeting with plaintiff and
Cutler. He said that he had looked into the issues
discussed in the February 17 meeting and decided to terminate
plaintiff's employment. He handed her a letter providing
four reasons for her termination: (1) “Insubordination,
” based on plaintiff's reporting to work on
February 17 despite Cutler's instructions; (2)
“Unprofessional behavior, ” based on her alleged
“outburst” in front of students and staff; (3)
“Serious lack of judgment, ” based on her
discussions with the eight-year old student about
Primett's name-calling; and (4) “Willful refusal to
follow directions, ” based on her continued discussions
with the student despite Cutler's instructions.
disputed each of the allegations and asked for proof. When
Truscio failed to produce witnesses or documentation,
plaintiff stated that he needed to support his findings with
“competent evidence” and could not rely on
“hearsay.” At various times, Truscio and Cutler
stated that plaintiff was an at-will employee and they were
not required to produce this kind of proof.
accused them of violating state and federal labor laws by
following up on her male coworkers' complaints against
her but not her complaints against them. She read passages
from the COMO employee handbook regarding workplace
discrimination. She complained that she did not receive a
meeting regarding her complaints that Cutler, Primett, Jay,
and others had harassed her.
the meeting, plaintiff's position was given to a woman in
her twenties. She continued to work at DMES, where she was
employed as a librarian, but eventually requested and
received a transfer to the district's high school because
of her toxic relationship with Primett.
12, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint with the Connecticut
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
(“CHRO”), claiming that COMO discriminated
against her based on her age and gender. After an
investigation and factfinding proceeding, the CHRO determined
in November 2013 that there was no reasonable cause to
believe COMO discriminated against her. The CHRO found that
most of plaintiff's claims were unsubstantiated or
refuted by the evidence, which included a signed statement by
a DMES cafeteria worker confirming that plaintiff had an
“outburst” in front of students and staff on
February 16. Plaintiff then brought this suit.
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike
moves to strike Cutler's affidavit. “An affidavit
or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be
made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be
admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or
declarant is competent to testify on the matters
stated.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). A court may strike an
affidavit, or portions of an affidavit, that does not comply
with Rule 56. See Hollander v. American Cyanamid
Co., 172 F.3d 192, 198 (2d Cir. 1999). None of
plaintiff's arguments require the Court to strike
argues that Cutler's affidavit has “technical
deficiencies.” But the affidavit was
“[s]ubscribed and sworn” before a notary public,
Def. Ex. A. (ECF No. 115-3), which meets the requirements of
Rule 56, see Lamoureux v. AnazaoHealth Corp., No.
3:03CV01382 WIG, 2010 WL 3801611, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept. 22,
2010) (“To be admissible in a summary judgment
proceeding, an affidavit must be sworn to before an officer
authorized to administer oaths, such as a ...