United States District Court, D. Connecticut
FAUZIA F. QAMAR
SHERIDAN HEALTHCARE OF CONNECTICUT, P.C.
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (DOC. NO.
31) AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR IN CAMERA REVIEW (DOC. NO.
M. Spector, United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, Fauzia F. Qamar, the only full-time
anesthesiologist employed by the defendant, Sheridan
Healthcare of Connecticut, P.C., commenced this employment
discrimination action on August 13, 2018 (Doc. No. 1). She
filed an Amended Complaint on October 23, 2018 (Doc. No. 18)
and a Second Amended Complaint on February 15, 2019 (Doc. No.
28). She alleges that she was discriminated against on the
basis of her sex and retaliated against for complaining that
her immediate supervisor tampered with drugs she was to
administer to her patient, potentially endangering the life
of her patient and costing the plaintiff her medical license.
(Doc. No. 28).
3, 2019, the plaintiff filed the pending Motion to Compel
(Doc. Nos. 31-32) and Motion of In Camera Review
(Doc. Nos. 33-34), both of which were referred to this
Magistrate Judge on July 11, 2019 (Doc. No. 36). On July 24,
2019, the defendant filed its briefs in opposition to both
motions. (Doc. Nos. 37-38). Discovery was scheduled to close
in this case on August 1, 2019. (Doc. No. 20). For the
reasons stated below, the plaintiff's Motion to Compel
(Doc. No. 31) is granted in part and the Motion for
In Camera Review (Doc. No. 33) is granted.
MOTION TO COMPEL
may “obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged
matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense
and is proportional to the needs of the case[.]”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The proportionality determination
limits the scope of discovery by “considering the
importance of the issues at stake[, ]” the
“amount in controversy, the parties' relative
access to relevant information, the parties' resources,
the importance of discovery in resolving the issues, and
whether the burden or expense . . . outweighs the likely
benefit” of the discovery sought. Fed.R.Civ.P.
Motion to Compel, the plaintiff asks the Court to order the
defendant to produce information of “comparators”
to establish that similarly situated individuals were treated
differently than the plaintiff. (Doc. No. 32, at 5-6).
Specifically, the plaintiff seeks responses to her Request
Nos. 17-19 and 21-23, in which she requests all documents
contained in the personnel files of three non-parties, as
well as documents concerning these individuals'
performance. (Doc. No. 32 at 7-8 & Ex. A at 3-4, 6-8).
The defendant objects on grounds that confidential personnel
information of the defendant's employees, who are not
parties to this action, is protected from disclosure by the
Personnel Files Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 31-128a et
seq., and common law, and that the three individuals are not
similarly situated to the plaintiff. (Id.; see
also Doc. No. 37 at 2-5). Additionally, the defendant
argues both that the personnel files necessarily contain
irrelevant information, including confidential, highly
private records and that the request is overly broad because
it is not limited to any timeframe. (Doc. No. 37 at 6).
plaintiff relying on disparate treatment evidence must show
she was similarly situated in all material respects to the
individuals with whom she seeks to compare herself.”
Mandell v. Cty. of Suffolk, 316 F.3d 368, 379 (2d
Cir. 2003) (citation and internal quotations omitted).
“A plaintiff and potential comparators . . . need not
be ‘identical[.]'” Metcalf v. Yale
Univ., No. 15 CV 01696 (VAB), 2017 WL 627423, at *5 (D.
Conn. Feb. 15, 2017) (quoting Graham v. Long Island
R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 40 (2d Cir. 2000)). The “bar is
set relatively low[, ]” Bagley v. Yale Univ.,
No. 13 CV 1890 (CSH), 2015 WL 8750901, at *2 (D. Conn. Dec.
14, 2015), as a comparator “must have a situation
sufficiently similar to plaintiff's to support at least a
minimal inference that the difference of treatment may be
attributable to discrimination.” Id. (citation
and internal quotation omitted); see Lizardo v.
Denny's, Inc., 270 F.3d 94, 101 (2d Cir. 2001)
(holding that comparators must be similar in
“significant respects”); see also Shumway v.
United Parcel Svc., Inc., 118 F.3d 60, 64 (2d Cir. 1997)
(affirming grant of summary judgment for the defendant on
grounds that, inter alia, the individuals the
plaintiff attempted to compare herself to were not
“similarly situated in all material respects.”).
“An employee is similarly situated to co-employees if
they were (1) ‘subject to the same performance
evaluation and discipline standards' and (2)
‘engaged in comparable conduct.'” Ruiz v.
Cty. of Rockland, 609 F.3d 486, 493-94 (2d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Graham, 230 F.3d at 40). “[A] key
determinant as to the employees who are proper comparators
with an employment discrimination plaintiff is whether they
shared a common supervisor.” Russo-Lubrano v.
Brooklyn Fed. Sav. Bank, No. CV-06-672
(CPS)(VVP), 2007 WL 2126086, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. July 23, 2017).
case, the plaintiff seeks documents contained in the
personnel files of three male anesthesiologists employed by
the defendant during the relevant time period, who held the
same job title as the plaintiff, possessed the same or
similar qualifications to the plaintiff, reported to the same
supervisor, and were to be judged by the same standards as
the plaintiff. (Doc. No. 32 at 9). The defendant, however,
contends that the plaintiff's co-workers are not
comparators because they did not engage in conduct similar to
the plaintiff's. (Doc. No. 37 at 2-3).
than just take the defendant's word for it, the plaintiff
is entitled to discover whether these individuals have a
record of criticism or performance issues and if so, how they
were addressed by their mutual supervisor and whether there
were complaints or investigations into these individuals for
any misconduct. This issue of whether these individuals are
ultimately appropriate comparators may be addressed at the
summary judgment stage. Kharazian v. Gerald Metals,
LLC, No. 3:16 CV 1762 (VAB), 2017 WL 11017757, at * 1
(D. Conn. Nov. 9, 2017) (declining to address, in the context
of discovery, whether an individual is an appropriate
comparator); see, e.g., Shumway, 118 F.3d at 64
(affirming summary judgment for the defendant on grounds,
inter alia, that the individuals the plaintiff
attempted to compare herself to were not “similarly
situated in all material respects.”); see also
Mandell, 316 F.3d at 369 (holding that
“[o]rdinarily, the question whether two employees are
similarly situated is a question of fact for the
jury.”). That said, as explained below, the
plaintiff's requests, as worded, are overly broad.